Local churches celebrate Easter in person with precaution

Published: Apr. 4, 2021 at 10:19 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - While many churches were shut down last Easter, this Sunday chapel doors were open.

It’s a holiday that can bring some of the biggest church crowds.

In fact, Pastor Steve Gedon of Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church said, “Two years ago, we had almost 400 people that came through the doors so it was - it was always we would have chairs here in the narthex. It was, you know, one of the high points of the year.”

Father John Rice of Saint Francis Catholic Church had similar sentiments.

“Normally we would have 150 or 200 people at the Easter vigil. Another 200 or 250 during each of the Sunday masses,” he said.

This Sunday, however, looked a little different.

From the moment you walked in, you were greeted with hand sanitizer. On top of that, pews were marked off for social distancing and everyone wore masks. The churches even had the same back-up plan for if too many people showed up - an overflow room where people could watch the service via a live-stream.

Rice explained, “If we get to overflow capacity, we have another space we can open up where we have a live-stream so they can participate and we’ll send a minister of communion over to them just right across the street.”

And it didn’t stop when church-goers left.

Gedon said, “We’ve invested in what essentially we call ‘The Fogger’ and, after every service, the sanctuary is fogged with a peroxide water base in order to sanitize the sanctuary.”

While it may not be your typical Easter service, it’s closer to normal than last year. In 2020, Saint Francis live-streamed their service and United Methodist posted a recording for people to watch online.

Both pastors agreed it just wasn’t the same.

Gedon remembered, “..., and there’s this incredible - on Easter - this incredible let down of no people, no interaction. The movie will end up and now it’s over and you kind of go so, for a lot of times it was, what are we doing here?”

Rice said being together in-person isn’t just about having fun.

“To be able to gather is part of what it means to be a Christian community.”

In fact, Gedon said time apart from the congregation has changed people’s perspective.

“It has really awakened us again by saying you know maybe we were taking that all for granted for too long.”

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