COLUMBUS (WCMH) — With the Easter holiday approaching, many churches are coordinating plans to make sure churchgoers have the ability to worship in whatever way they feel comfortable.
After many Easter Sunday services were canceled last year because of COVID-19, this year congregants are seeking a message of faith to get us through to the other side of the pandemic.
“It will be a time where God can bless you with a message of Easter, and the hope that comes from that message,” says Doug McCoy, the Small Groups Pastor at the Church Next Door.
Hope was all Pastor Doug could rely on during Easter last year.
“I was walking through my neighborhood, unable to attend services,” Pastor Doug recalls. “This year we’re going to have three different services. They will be both in-person and outside.”
Members can also stream the service online, as worship leaders are tasked with making the holy celebration accessible to everyone.
“We put [the possibilities] out there to say, ‘What are you comfortable with? Wherever you’re comfortable, that’s where we’re comfortable and we will meet you there,'” says Pastor Doug.
Accommodating members with different COVID-19 comfort levels has been a universal challenge for churches of all sizes and resources during the pandemic.
“It was hard because I’m a people person. I like to see people,” admits Pastor Roy Terry at the Macedonia Baptist Church.
Pastor Roy has been forced into double duty as the church organist during the pandemic. After joining the church last February, he’ll preach his first in-person service on Easter when they officially re-open the church.
“I’m excited, but a little apprehensive,” Pastor Roy admits.
As a smaller church, with an older congregation, members have gotten used to attending from home.
“You go a whole year, and then all at once you’ve got to get back in the mode of actually physically coming to the building,” says Pastor Roy.
But for churches with the ability to stream online or through other broadcast platforms, COVID-19 has brought one blessing in disguise.
“By using social media, we’re reaching people nationwide,” Pastor Roy admits.
Pastor Doug says they have seen the same at their church.
“There are people that we have met that otherwise we wouldn’t have met,” he says.
With just days until the most holy celebration on the church calendar, for both churches, the pandemic has brought back into focus the true mission of the church.
“To pursue people more than process or programs. Because at the end of the day that’s all we could do — find people to reach out to that are hurting,” Pastor Doug encourages.
The Church Next Door has had over 700 new people reach out to or engage with them during this pandemic, according to Pastor Doug.
At Macedonia, Pastor Roy says the pandemic also afforded them the chance to begin food, clothing, and furniture pantries, allowing them to find new ways to give back to the surrounding community in need.