For many, Easter Sunday marks the return to worship in person

BOSTON – For many American Christians, this weekend is the first time since 2019 that they will meet in person on Easter Sunday, a welcome opportunity to celebrate one of the holiest days of the year with their companions.

The pandemic erupted in the country in March 2020, just before Easter, forcing many churches to resort to online or televised worship. Many continued to maintain virtual services last spring after a deadly winter wave of coronavirus and while vaccination campaigns were still on the rise. But this year more churches are opening their doors for Easter services with few COVID-19 restrictions, in line with broader social trends.

Among them are the Catholic parishes of the Archdiocese of Boston, which since last June has again demanded that most attendees attend Mass in person, although those at risk to health can still see the distance and pastors have been asked to make room for the social distancing in churches. .

MC Sullivan, the archdiocese’s head of health ethics, said celebrating community Mass is important to the way Catholics profess their faith. Church attendance has been a rising trend and parishioners are excited to meet again to commemorate the resurrection of Christ.

“It simply came to our notice then. … It seems to have led a lot of people to the idea of ​​what is important to them, ”he said.

Although most pandemic restrictions have been lifted, some parishes in the area celebrate services outside of Easter Sunday, including a 6 a.m. Mass near the waterfront in South Boston.

Hundreds of people lit candles in the vast cathedral of St. Paul, Minnesota, after Archbishop Bernard Hebda blessed the fire and lit the Easter candle to open the Easter Vigil service late Saturday.

The centennial cathedral echoed the singing of the congregation as the candles twinkled in the darkness. After 8 p.m., children fascinated by the small flames and the singers outnumbered those wearing masks: the archdiocese overturned all Covid protocols on April 1, while allowing faithful and individual parishes to take precautions if they wished. .

Similarly, the nearby Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, which became a community center during protests over the assassination of George Floyd in 2020, ended with the demand for masks from Palm Sunday and returned to communion shoulder to shoulder on the railroad in place in the banks. Ingrid Rasmussen, the pastor, said Easter attendance was expected to be similar to pre-pandemic levels, but divided between those on banks and those joining remotely.

Christ Church Lutheran, an architectural landmark also in Minneapolis, is taking a cautious approach to loosening COVID protocols. But while masks and social distancing measures remain in place, there was an Easter Vigil inside Saturday night, followed by a gospel procession through the middle of the sanctuary Sunday.

“The gift of being in the same physical space for the first time in three years is so beautiful and beautiful,” said Miriam Samuelson-Roberts, the pastor. “We don’t take it for granted.”

The Lutheran Church of Peace in Baldwin, Wisconsin, was celebrating Easter again at the shrine after spending 16 months hosting services, baptisms, and funerals in the parking lot, surrounded by fields and dairy farms. But services continue to be broadcast on social media and local television, which has been successful in attracting people from other communities.

“One thing I’m sure of is that if we have to restrict our meetings, for whatever reason, we’re sure to use our resources to‘ get to know people where they are, ’” said John Hanson, pastor.

In New York City, Middle Collegiate Church was meeting for its first in-person Easter service since 2019, but not at its historic Manhattan church, which was destroyed by fire two December ago.

As they rebuild, they are sharing space in the East End Temple, where Rabbi Joshua Stanton will offer a prayer during the celebration of Easter, at a time when the synagogue is celebrating its own Easter days.

Rev. Jacqui Lewis, Middle Collegiate’s chief minister, said everyone will have to be “shaved and masked” and that attendance at the 190-person temple is limited to 150. Those running the service, in addition to singers and musicians from the chorus, they took a quick hit. COVID tests. Coffee time will be outdoors, in the park across the street.

“We will miss him, but we will not embrace him for peace. We will simply bow,” Lewis said. “We’re seeing the numbers and we’ll change when we have to be sure.”

Just north of town in Westchester County, Bedford Presbyterian Church also closely monitors local infection rates and follows public health guidelines. The congregation will be divided into two face-to-face Easter services to allow for social distancing, the sanctuary windows will remain open, and the church will use high-strength air purifiers.

“Ministers are juggling many concerns and expectations as we head to our third Easter with the upcoming COVID,” said Rev. Carol Howard Merritt, the senior pastor. “We know the church avoids isolation and builds community, so we try to figure out ways to worship in person and online.”

For many, Easter Sunday marks the return to worship in person

Source link For many, Easter Sunday marks the return to worship in person

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