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Churches Prep For In-Person Easter Service

Zion Covenant Church, located at 520 Fairmount Ave., Jamestown, will be holding an additional Easter Sunday church service. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

After no in-person Easter church services last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, churches are preparing to welcome parishioners back this Sunday.

The Rev. Luke Fodor at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, located at 410 N. Main St., Jamestown, said this Easter will be notably special following an unsettling year with church goers slowly returning to in-person services.

“Easter is one of those times where we want to celebrate both the spring and the power of possibility,” he said. “During these times of the new normal, which will be different this year with all of us wearing mask, Easter has always presented to us a new normal — the power of resurrection.”

Fodor said St. Luke’s restarted in-person services in July. However, he said many in the congregation have been hesitant to return because of the pandemic. He said, as more people receive the vaccination and the number of cases start to decrease, people are finding their way back to sitting in a church pew.

“When people came back, it was almost traumatic because we were all amidst in great anxiety,” he said. “People come to church for community. It’s been hard to celebrate community in a safe way. We are trying to keep things safe for folks, but we want to do it in a way to also bring the community back together.”

The Rev. Luke Fodor performing Ash Wednesday service at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. St. Luke’s will be holding an in-person Easter church service after being forced to cancel it last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Submitted photo

Fodor said St. Luke’s has held in-person church services since July except for the weekend after Thanksgiving. He said since July church officials have adapted to the COVID-19 protocols and are expanding how to do things safely during the pandemic.

“Luckily we haven’t had any spread,” he said.

The Rev. Rick Miller of Zion Covenant Church, located at 520 Fairmount Ave., Jamestown, said there will be four different church services on Easter Sunday, which is one more than usual. He said the first service will be held at 6:45 a.m. outside at a youth pastor’s residence on Camp Street, which will be followed by services at 8:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. at the church.

“We can’t fit everyone all in the church at once. We’ve been doing that since we opened up again,” he said about the additional service. “We’re not anticipating large crowds, which is a combination of the pandemic and knowing several people who are leaving because it’s their first chance to get away.”

Miller said in-person church services were held outside last summer, with a return to inside the church in September. He said the one thing he has learned during the pandemic is how much content the church has been doing online and the length of the service.

“Prior to the pandemic, we were doing some online stuff, but we’ve gotten much better at that and we’re more consistent,” he said. “The services are also shorter. I don’t know if we will go back to longer services than 40 to 45 minutes. It’s has forced me to get a little tighter on my preaching. I have to make my words count.”

Brian Bogey, First Lutheran Church minister of music and organist, said during the pandemic singing songs and hymns has changed a lot compared to prior to the COVID-19 virus. He said, in the past, there was singing during parts of the worship service, but that has been changed to just saying the words. Also, the church, located at 120 Chandler St., Jamestown, service hasn’t been using a choir. He added hymns with several verses have also been reduced to just two.

However, for Easter Sunday, Bogey said there will be a choral assemble of eight to perform and some hymns will have more than two verses.

Bogey also said for the first time in a year, communion was held on Palm Sunday and will be done again Easter Sunday. He said parishioners receive the bread and wine in a bag. He added the church will continue to perform communion on the first Sunday of each month.

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