While the coronavirus is causing people to stay at home, Christians in the area are still finding ways to celebrate Easter.
“There’s an affirmation during this time that the faith goes on,” said Sam Samorian, director of development for Saint Bede Catholic Church in Williamsburg. “Because if you’re a Christian you know plagues and other things have been happening for thousands of years, but the faith remains.”
During the time of the coronavirus pandemic, churches and other congregations of faith have had to find alternate means of connecting with their congregation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created guidelines for communities of faith that help prevent transmission of the disease.
That includes canceling large gatherings for events, such as those that would be held for Easter Sunday.
But despite the change in tradition, Christian faith communities are still finding ways to connect.
Last week, Saint Bede Catholic Church did a drive-thru event for Palm Sunday during which members of the congregation lined up in their cars to receive blessed palms and the worship aid for Easter’s virtual service.
In addition, the church is also holding a live mass on Thursday, Friday and three live stream masses on Sunday.
However, while the church is still finding ways to celebrate the holiday, the coronavirus is still changing some traditions.
Samorian said the church typically welcomes 30 new members each year during the Easter vigil that’s typically held on Saturday. But due to the restrictions on large gatherings, the vigil is having to be postponed to a later date when people can renew their baptismal promises together.
But even with those canceled plans, Samorian said this time of uncertainty can actually bring people closer to their faith.
“You know as a Christian, it really makes you dig deeper and think about why you’re a Christian,” he said. “The whole lead up to Easter involves learning about how Christ spent 40 days in the desert being tempted. So now we’re in a desert of isolation and there’s a sense of longing.”
Samorian said that despite the impacts to Easter worship, this is also time when people can learn how to practice their faith domestically and build on those skills for the future.
After Gov. Ralph Northam banned gatherings of 10 or more people and encouraged Virginians to stay home, several churches on the Peninsula decided to close to the public.
The Catholic Diocese of Richmond decided to livestream its Sunday services on its Youtube channel with the clergy members practicing social distancing. For Easter, the church will also broadcast the mass.
“This is personally distressing not to have the members of our faithful present and physically able to participate with us in this most sacred time,” Bishop Barry Knestout said in a prepared statement. “We must work to protect the safety and well-being of all and yet do all we can for our faithful to remain spiritually connected to God and the Church in these uncertain times.”
Holy Week schedule
- Good Friday: April 10 at 3 p.m.
- Holy Saturday: April 11 at 8 p.m.
- Easter Sunday, April 12, 10 a.m.
In addition, other religious services around the area are adapting to the change.
In Williamburg, local radio stations are working to keep congregations connected to their faith for Easter services. The stations FM 93.5 and AM 740, WMBG Radio is providing a variety of Easter services to listen to on Saturday.
On Saturday, stations will play the following schedule:
- 8 a.m., message from Pastor Reginald Davis from First Baptist Church followed by Pastor Jim Hunter from Walnut Hills.
- 9 a.m., a message Pastor Ed Preston from Tsena Commocko Baptist Church.
- 9:30 a.m., an episode of A Woman’s Heart presented by Lisa Granger.
- 10 a.m., a message from Fred Liggin at the Williamsburg Christian Church.
- 11 a.m., a message from Pastor John Morgan of Williamsburg Presbyterian Church.
Waters Edge Church, a Christian church with locations in Williamsburg, Yorktown and Newport News, has been live streaming its church services for weeks.
Easter Sunday will be no different.
The church will livestream the Easter sermons in the Waters Edge Church website at the following times on Sunday, April 12: 8 a.m. 9:30 a.m. 11 a.m. 6 p.m. 7:30 p.m. & 9 p.m.
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