By Tia Lynn Ivey
The most sacred celebration in Christianity is Easter Sunday, with over two billion Christians across the globe worshipping in churches together to remember and honor the belief in the Resurrection of Jesus of Christ. But the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in quarantines, lockdowns, and limits on public gatherings across the globe, made traditional Easter services impossible for many churches this year. Forgoing the usual church service with pews packed with pastel-clad parishioners was disheartening for many Christians. However, while modern-day believers have grown accustomed to such celebratory crowded services, the story of the very first Easter was not all that dissimilar from this year’s conundrum. The Gospel accounts found in the Bible tell a story of the first Christians were scattered after Jesus’ crucifixion. The first Easter morning featured a handful of grief-stricken women outside of an empty tomb and the disciples sequestered in a house together, in hiding and afraid of what was happening in the world.. Sound familiar? The circumstances were different, but the feeling might be the same. In a way, this year’s Easter may be more biblical than ever before. And in Morgan County, churches were determined to find unconventional ways to pray, sing, and read the Bible together on Easter while following stay-at-home and social distancing policies. Many churches live streamed their services on the Internet, including Madison Baptist Church, Fusion Church Madison, and Redeemer Church of Madison. Other churches, like Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, held conference calls with members on Easter morning. Other churches, like Madison Presbyterian Church, encouraged members to take selfies beside a flowered cross outside of the church and post it on social media. First United Methodist Church (FUMC) of Madison also encouraged members to post pictures of their family Easter celebrations so the church can make a slideshow to members. Some churches even held in-person services like Union Springs Baptist Church in Rutledge, but enacted social distancing measures and had a nurse taking temperatures of all who entered the church. Local pastors are trying to help slow the spread of the coronavirus while ministering to their members and the community, on Easter especially. “We are all going to miss seeing our church family at our usual Easter festivities this weekend. To help bring us together,” said a FUMC member on Facebook.
“This year our Easter service was very non-traditional,” said Carrie Peters-Reid, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, who arranged a Facebook Live service with her co-pastor and husband Derrick Reid. She encouraged her church members to focus on the faith and what matters most.
“Easter is truly about the resurrection of Christ. He was raised from the dead. Jesus got up , so we can get up also,” said Peters-Reid.
Madison Mayor Fred Perriman, who is also a pastor, prayed this Easter would bring families closer together as most are stuck home with each other. “We know it’s a difficult time and especially on Easter when church families all want to be together, it’s tough. But Easter is still happening. Church is just the building we go to worship together, but you can worship God wherever you are.”