Easter services at churches throughout the region may look a little different because of Covid-19, but the message remains the same: He is Risen — Matthew 28:5-6.
From drive-in services in parking lots to digital services livestreamed on websites, social media and cable TV, congregations throughout the Red River Valley are joining Christian denominations worldwide in the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“We will be observing Easter in the Love Civic Center parking lot,” Pastor Danny Moody of East Paris Baptist Church said. “We will set up on a trailer and people will tune in to radio station FM 106.9 to hear the service beginning at 11 a.m.”
Nearby, at Pathway Church of God at 3905 SE Loop 286, drive-in services are to be conducted on the church parking lot.
“We are celebrating communion,” Pastor Samuel Evans said, explaining individually prepared and wrapped sacraments will be delivered to people in their cars. ”Children will receive Easter gifts as well.”
First Baptist Church will host a drive-in service at 4 p.m. outside its Family Life Center, 209 3rd St. SE, according to Pastor Tommy Turner.
“What an exciting time we are going to be together,” Turner said during a social media video as he explained, “we are going to pull up there in our cars, listen on our radios … and you are going to listen to the service — it’s going to be a great time.”
In Clarksville, congregants of Saint James Baptist Church will celebrate from the parking lot at 309 E. Star St.
“We will bring our sound system outside, and you will hear our service all through the community” Pastor Harold Massey said of an 11 a.m. service. “We will have an 18-foot trailer for our worship team, and from video screens on each side of the trailer we will have videos of praise dancers, a skit by our youth department and Easter speakers.”
As has been the case since social distancing recommendations by federal, state and local governments were first announced, most local churches have switched to virtual broadcasts of regular devotionals, prayer groups and church services.
“These are challenging times but we are reaching out to our congregations,” Pastor Rob Spencer of First United Methodist Church said.
Churches also continue outreach.
“We are continuing our work in the community such as making masks for health care workers, delivering meals to CitySquare Paris and to the students left on campus at Paris Junior College now there is no longer meal service,” Spencer said.