Home News COVID-19 Situation Churches prepare for Easter in shadow of COVID-19

Churches prepare for Easter in shadow of COVID-19

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Alex Ross Photo St. Mark’s Lutheran Church at 2911 North Main Street in Roswell.

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This Easter Sunday the pews will not be packed with people. However, local churches are finding ways to observe the holiday while keeping their flocks safe from COVID-19.

With the onset of COVID-19 and the issuance of a health order restricting public gathering to five people, traditional in-person services at most churches have been halted.

Other Holy Week traditions, such as the annual pilgrimages undertaken to El Santuario de Chimayo and Tome Hill, have also been canceled.

Churches in and around Roswell though will still be leading their members in worship but in nontraditional ways.

The Immaculate Conception Mission in Dexter is one of scores of churches streaming their services online. Father Raphael Nwosu said he will stream Sunday’s service on the Mission’s Facebook page.

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“Everyone misses the holy mass and the church but they are happy that they also can see it live from their homes,” he said.

Daniel Tisdel, pastor at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, said he will be recording an Easter service Saturday that will be posted for people to tune into Sunday.

Other churches are planning to conduct parking lot services.

Jason Perry of New Hope Baptist Church in Artesia said he will conduct a parking lot service Sunday at 11 a.m.

In the spirit of an old-fashioned drive-in movie, people will remain in their vehicle in the church parking lot. Perry said the church has an FM transmitter, allowing people to listen via their car radios to the service performed by Perry from a nearly 10-foot high platform outside the church.

People wearing gloves will distribute song sheets and hymnals to each person, he added.

This Sunday, Perry said, the church anticipates the service will be so well attended some people will likely need to park across the street from the church.

The parking lot service, Perry said, is something that allows people to come together while also adhering to social distancing measures.

“Of course we don’t like not being together and being able to fellowship and actually shake hands and hug necks with each other, but the way we look at it is, we are not going to allow a virus to keep us from coming together in some form or fashion and studying the word of God and assembling together,” he said.

Grace Community Church will be hosting a sunrise parking lot service at 6:30 a.m Sunday.

Minister Rick Hale said throughout the hour-long service people will stay in their vehicles in the church parking lot, with at least one parking space between each vehicle. The church’s band will be outside on the patio.

“And so we are going to have live Easter music and I am going to just read a brief message as the sun comes up,” he said.

Another service will later be performed and posted on the church’s website at 9 a.m.

People will not receive communion during the sunrise service, but will be encouraged to take communion at home during the service that will be posted online, Hale said.

Church on the Move will be hold a parking lot service at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, with people parked in vehicles.

Troy Smotherman, pastor at Church on the Move, said vehicles will be about eight feet from one another.

Sunday evening at 6 p.m., the church will also be hosting a drive thru Easter parade, where 30,000 plastic easter eggs containing money and candy will be distributed.

“And we will be handing those out with gloves on and handing out the eggs and making sure that, again, everyone is practicing social distancing,” he said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.