Area churches to celebrate Easter in various, special ways

George Copeland Jr. | 4/1/2021, 6 p.m.
Area churches are ready to celebrate Easter by welcoming congregants back to services both inside their sanctuaries and some outdoors.

Area churches are ready to celebrate Easter by welcoming congregants back to services both inside their sanctuaries and some outdoors.

With nearly 30 percent of Virginians receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and the state easing some restrictions on indoor gatherings beginning April 1, some churches, including Cedar Street Baptist Church of God, are using Easter to bring people back together inside.

The Church Hill congregation will be holding services open to all at 7:45 and 10 a.m. Sun- day, with music, liturgical dancers and various COVID-10 safety measures in place to follow state guidelines.

“This day has historically been marked as a high attendance day in the life of the church,” said Rosemary R. Harris, executive assistant to the pastor, Dr. Anthony M. Chandler Sr.

“It is now our responsibility that we examine all areas of safety to ensure that everyone entering the building sees our progress.”

Thirty-first Street Baptist Church in the East End also plans to have in-person worship for Resurrection Sunday with limited seating. People are asked to re- serve space on the church’s website, 31sbc.org. Masks will be required.

For Rev. Christopher Moore Sr., pastor of New Kingdom Christian Ministries, Easter will be celebrated with a one-hour service in the parking lot of the Dill Avenue church, where the congregation will be seated in chairs while socially distanced.

The goal is to provide a more communal atmosphere for those who want it, Rev. Moore said.

The service also will be livestreamed.

“We thought Easter would be a great time to allow some people to come together,” said Rev. Moore, recalling that the church held a drive-in service last Easter. “The only expectation I have is I expect us to rejoice and celebrate what we call the pinnacle of our church.”

Moore Street Missionary Baptist Church is holding a 10 a.m. drive-in service Sunday at Virginia Union University’s Hovey Field parking lot. “Come as you are, stay in your car,” the church advertises.

Not all churches are planning to change from the online services they have been conducting since this time last year.

Ebenezer Baptist Church in Jackson Ward and St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in North Side have opted to use entirely virtual services for Easter Sunday, as they did last year. While they will feature some special touches for some of their services, such as a violin performance at Ebenezer Baptist, their plans are rooted in providing smooth and fulfilling services while avoiding potential infections among their congregation.

“We are doing our best to protect our membership, and one of the ways we felt we could do that was by staying out of the building for a little while longer,” said Dr. Adam L. Bond, who started at the church on March 1 last year and was at the forefront of the church’s efforts to adjust to the pressures of the pandemic.

“We don’t want to put anybody in any potential harm in terms of being in such close quarters and with the potential of spreading anything to anyone who might not be protected at this point, especially our children.”

Dr. Bond sees the Easter occasion as one that can impart meaningful lessons on “the other side of disappointment” and beginning life anew.

“I believe that Easter this year, especially at this pivotal moment in our nation’s history with this pandemic and everything else, is a great opportunity,” Dr. Bond said. “This is a great opportunity, a great moment, in which we can hear through the Easter methods that we don’t have to remain down, that God is inviting us to get up.

“I think this Sunday can be a great moment in which we are all inspired and encouraged to see the brighter days that are ahead.”