It’s ‘Virtually’ Easter

Local churches get creative to reach followers this holy weekend

Pope+Francis+is+flanked+by+Mons.+Guido+Marini+as+he+delivers+his+blessing+during+the+Via+Crucis+%E2%80%93+or+Way+of+the+Cross+%E2%80%93+ceremony+in+front+of+St.+Peter%27s+Basilica%2C+empty+of+the+faithful+following+Italy%27s+ban+on+gatherings+during+a+national+lockdown+to+contain+contagion%2C+at+the+Vatican%2C+Friday%2C+April+10.+In+Spring+and+Tomball%2C+following+the+guidelines+set+forth+by+Governor+Greg+Abbott+and+by+recommendations+of+local+officials%2C+churches+are+planning+to+hold+all+Good+Friday+and+Easter+services+online+to+keep+their+parishioners+safe+from+COVID-19.

AP Photos/Andrew Medichini

Pope Francis is flanked by Mons. Guido Marini as he delivers his blessing during the Via Crucis – or Way of the Cross – ceremony in front of St. Peter's Basilica, empty of the faithful following Italy's ban on gatherings during a national lockdown to contain contagion, at the Vatican, Friday, April 10. In Spring and Tomball, following the guidelines set forth by Governor Greg Abbott and by recommendations of local officials, churches are planning to hold all Good Friday and Easter services online to keep their parishioners safe from COVID-19.

Thousands flock to area churches for celebration on Easter Sunday, usually.

This year, local churches are scrambling to find ways to stay connected to their flocks online, in order to keep them safe while also sharing the holy day with the masses.

“This year, church will be in our living room with three people instead of 300,” junior Brenna Tinder, who attends the Northpointe Campus of The Woodlands Church which usually meets at Regal Cinemas 19 in Tomball, said. “It will be a memory I can make with my family, but it will be one of the first years I won’t be spending it with the people of my church.”

Allie Kretsinger, a children’s ministry leader from Champion Forest Baptist Church North Klein, says that her church is doing as much as possible to stay connected with their congregation. CFBC North Klein is hosting live Sunday services every week through Facebook, Youtube and their website at www.championforest.org, including Easter Sunday at 10 a.m., 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. in English and at 11:30 a.m. in Spanish.

For the safety of those involved in the services, there are only essential people at the church who record the pastor’s sermon, sing with the worship team, and control the technology needed to broadcast the service to their viewers.

“It’s a challenging new experience to have to host church like this, but we want to still spread the word of the Lord even though it is not in person,” Kretsinger said.

Other churches have found ways to stay connected as well and are hoping to keep some Easter Sunday traditions alive as well.

“Something new that they are doing this year [at The Woodlands Church] is streaming a sunrise service early in the morning on Sunday,” Tinder said. The sunrise service is going to be available at live.wc.org at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. Other Easter services for The Woodlands Church will air at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The Woodlands Church also has a virtual egg hunts scheduled for the kids.

“Our church has a gigantic egg hunt every year for all the kids, so they had to figure out a way to do it differently this year,” Tinder said. “They hid 10 golden eggs along with hundreds of regular eggs all over the playground inside the church and then took 360 pictures of it. The kids [and anyone, really] can try to find all 10 of them. Then, if you think you did it, you can post in on your social media and tag them so they can see who all participated.”

CFBC and many other churches like Faithbridge United Methodist Church are still planning to celebrate Easter whether people are sitting in church pews or on their couches watching from home.

“Faithbridge is having online Easter services for anyone who wants to log on and watch,” Krimmel 8th grader Madi Aitken said. “During this hard time, Faithbridge is always here to walk you through it.”

Faithbridge’s virtual Easter services are at 9 and 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 12 at www.faithbridge.org/live.