ROANOKE, Va. – The Super Bowl of Sundays is this weekend: Easter.
Once again, it falls during the pandemic. This year, churches are making changes due to COVID-19.
“No doubt, Easter is our Super Bowl,” said Fincastle Baptist Church Pastor Kevin Cummings. “I don’t think any of us would have dreamed last Easter that this Easter we would still be dealing with some of the things we’ve been dealing with.”
This year, the church is holding a drive-up service, which will be transmitted over the radio, and two in-person services. The biggest change is that people are asked to pre-register so they don’t exceed capacity limits. Cummings said most churches are operating at 60 to 70%.
“Before COVID, Easter for us would be, you know, 1,400 to 1,500 people. So obviously this year, because of the restrictions, it’s going to be less,” said Cummings.
Greene Memorial United Methodist Church in Roanoke’s been holding virtual services all year.
“We’ve been able to worship far and wide in ways that we never would have before,” said Rev. Joanna Paysour, the pastor at Greene Memorial.
Paysour said they’re holding three Sunday services for every comfort level.
“There’s a real joy in being able to gather safely,” said Paysour.
First, the church will first hold a short sunrise service on the steps of Greene Memorial. Then there will be a virtual service. And finally, members can meet at Elmwood Park for in-person worship, masked and socially distant.
“We’re limiting congregational singing. We’re practicing, you know, all the good health regulations. But we’re still thrilled to be able to gather together and worship together,” said Paysour.
They’ll register those who attend in case they need to contact trace.
Paysour said she is amazed by the resiliency of faith communities adapting to change, but this Sunday, there’s nothing like the joy of joining together.
“There’s a real sense of Easter joy,” said Paysour. “A real sense of new life and hope.”