LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — For the second year in a row, the coronavirus pandemic is a driving element in how Christians are celebrating Resurrection Sunday.
Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington switched its traditional Easter service for an online service last year after Gov. Andy Beshear ordered all houses of worship to cease in-person gatherings in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike in 2020, churches were able to bring some worshipers back together in person for Easter Day service on Sunday.
“It’s just great to be back and to see people that come in the door. And although we can’t hug and we can’t do those things, we wave at a distance, but it’s awesome to see people here excited to be here,” said Immanuel Baptist Church Pastor Bradley Thomas.
Worship centers are currently allowed to hold 60-percent capacity.
Immanuel Baptist Church has been holding in-person services since restrictions on houses of worship began loosening last year.
Faith leaders said the church has been enforcing state and C.D.C guidance, including limiting seating capacity, asking people to social distancing, and enforcing the use of masks throughout service.
Immanuel Baptist Church has also continued offering online services as an option for its congregation.
“We’ve worked really hard to try to keep our community together,” Thomas said. “We’ve tried to continue to let them know that we’re here for them and we’re walking every step of the way with them.”
David’s Fork Baptist Church has also held on to some of the adaptations they made throughout the pandemic.
“Probably about a third of my congregation is still choosing to stay in their car and worship,” said Pastor Mickey Hyder. “We want them to be safe. We want them to feel safe.”
David’s Fork Baptist Church began offering drive-in services as a way to continue meeting when houses of worship were asked to stop gatherings.
Pastor Hyder held an in-person service on Sunday, while also allowing those who did not feel comfortable being around people to tune in to 91.1 FM.
“[Inside] we’re taking their temperatures and they’re wearing masks,” Pastor Hyder said. “We’ve got the pews marked off every other one. We’re taking all the precautions we can.”
Hyder and Thomas both emphasized their excitement for being able to celebrate in-person on Resurrection Sunday but also noted that at the end of the day, it is not a building that makes a church.
“You don’t have to be in a building. God is still at work,” said Pastor Hyder.
“[Our message today] is about hope. The hope is that the tomb is empty and that regardless of what we’re going through in life, there is hope because Jesus is alive today,” said Pastor Thomas.