Area churches prepare for Easter Sunday as vaccination rates rise

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s considered one of the biggest holidays in the Christian calendar; and this year, some churches are preparing for their first in-person Easter since 2019.

“We want to see a lot of people,” said Pastor Bryan Blackwell at Pine Valley Baptist Church. “We want to engage a lot of people. We want people to know about the message of Easter. But we want to be able to do that safely.”

Last year, many area churches had to forego festivities and in-person services as coronavirus began to spread across the U.S. This lead some churches to explore new technological avenues.

“Ever since we’ve had COVID hit,” Blackwell explained, “we’ve tried to pour some resources, training, money and equipment into continuing to reach a virtual audience.”

It’s no surprise every church we reached out to planned on providing a virtual option for Easter this year.

To mitigate crowds, instead of their usual sunrise service on the Battleship, Pine Valley Baptist Church is live streaming an in-person service. They’re also holding a Saturday outdoor celebration for the kids.

According to Blackwell, “We’ll have egg hunts, bounce houses, we’ll have food trucks. With COVID, we’re not even preparing the food this year, we’re asking someone to come in and do that for us just for a little extra measure of safety.”

Other churches, like The Leland Church and The Bridge Presbyterian Church will hold virtual events events all week. The Bridge is opting for an in-person sunrise service at the Brunswick Riverwalk this year, and cancelling egg hunts.

“Will keep inviting people to come and stay masked and invite people to be sensitive of physical distancing,” said Bridge pastor Doug Cushing. “And of course, we’re going to abide by the governor’s recommendations for outdoor gatherings.”

Several area churches like First Baptist Wilmington are opting for outdoor services this year, booking area parks and venues like Airlie Gardens.

But whether church goers choose to attend in person or stream their Easter Sunday, the message will remain the same.

“I can’t wait for Easter,” said Cushing. “What a great time to celebrate resurrection and new life after a year of walking through the shadow of death. I think that sentiment encapsulates how many people feel about the opportunity to worship this particular Easter Sunday.”

Though night is dark, hope is as sure as the sunrise.

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