In a year after the Lord shut down the church because of her abominations and sins of sanctioning and endorsing homosexuality and homosexual marriage and other sins such as adultery, raping of women and children, swinging, and the false prosperity gospel through the coronavirus plague, some churches in America will open their buildings this Easter with reservations, limited capacity and social distancing; some will not open at all and continue to worship God online at home and in some parts of the world the government is keeping churches closed. Pew Research found that only 39 percent of Christians in the US plan to attend Easter church services this year. Daniel Whyte III who predicted this plague over the past 10 years says that if you do go, contrary to pastor Samuel Rodriguez, do not do any “hugging,” but he still says it is wiser to continue to worship at home online with your local church because this plague has not ended because God’s people have not fully repented. As he has said all year, this is a plague and chastisement against the church and the hypocrisy of the people in the pulpit and in the pews. He says also that plagues in the bible do have an ending but it is normally after God’s people have fully repented and that has not happened because we have not seen any fruits of repentance
Reservations are required to attend Easter services at a Roman Catholic parish in San Francisco. A Methodist church in the Kansas City, Mo., area is limiting attendance to 35% of its normal capacity. And at a church in Pasadena, Calif., the masks are off and the singing has resumed.
With vaccination rates climbing and daily Covid-19 cases down significantly from January highs, many pastors see welcoming back their members this Sunday as symbolic not only of Jesus’ resurrection, but of a return to something resembling normal, one year after the pandemic forced most to shutter just before the holiest day on the Christian calendar
“This Easter is basically ‘Come back to church,’ Easter,” said Sam Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “Let’s do it safely. Let’s come back to hugging and loving and supporting one another.”
But how—and whether—church can be resumed safely remains subject to debate. A Supreme Court ruling in February overturned California’s ban on indoor worship, but left in place restrictions on singing and limits on how many people could be inside at once.
Regulations for houses of worship vary widely from state to state and county to county, and many authorities are reluctant to enforce the rules in place. As a result, churches, like many businesses, have effectively been left to decide for themselves what is safe. A recent increase in Covid infections, which are up 19% over the last two weeks, and recent calls by President Biden and the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow reopenings have only complicated the issue.
Ché Ahn, the pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, was one of the plaintiffs in the case that led the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on indoor worship. On Sunday, he plans an Easter egg hunt, but not the elaborate performances that the church has staged in years past because he says many of his members who usually perform don’t feel comfortable coming in yet. Masks will be optional, despite state rules saying singers must be masked.
“Full disclosure: We’re singing,” Mr. Ahn said. “We feel half of worship is giving Him glory through song.”
Though more congregations are welcoming members back, a recent survey from the Pew Research Center found that 39% of Christians in the U.S. planned to attend Easter services this year, compared with 62% who normally attend. Overall, 42% of Christians who said they “regularly attend” services had done so in the past month, up from 33% in July. Some 76% said their congregations were open in some capacity, most of those with restrictions.
Plans to attend church on the holiest day on the Christian calendar varied by denomination. More than half of Evangelicals said they would go to Easter services, according to Pew, compared with 27% of mainline Protestants.
Jews have also debated whether to resume in-person worship this week, with families weighing whether they could hold Passover seders indoors after a year of staying distanced from loved ones.
he United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, in Leawood, Kan., began welcoming congregants in person again three weeks ago after a year of worshiping almost entirely virtually.
The church has created a touchless system, with doors propped open and tithes and attendance tallied by phone. Masks are required throughout the service, even while singing—which is supposed to be done softly. Three seats must remain vacant between each family. For Easter, reservations are required and some services filled up more than a week in advance.
“Our aim is to make sure that coming to worship is safer than going to the grocery store,” said Adam Hamilton, the senior pastor.
Nonetheless, many of the older members are still choosing to stay home. “We think it’s going to be a year from now before we see anywhere close to the numbers we had before Covid in person,” Mr. Hamilton said.
Churches are reopening quicker in the U.S., where more than a quarter of adults have now received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, than in most other countries where Christianity is widespread.
In Seville, Spain, the city’s famous Holy Week processions with their hooded penitents won’t take place for the second year in a row on account of the pandemic. In the Republic of Ireland, under one of the strictest policies in the EU, public worship is banned, as it has been for most of the past year. Those near the border could drive to Northern Ireland, where in-person worship with social distancing is allowed under U.K. rules, although attending church isn’t a legally recognized reason to travel between the two countries.
The Catholic bishop of Derry, Northern Ireland, whose diocese sits on the border with the Republic, has said that he won’t stop people from the south from worshiping in his churches on Easter.
“The border is crossed innumerable times a day by cars for all good reasons…I’m not going to stop them at the door of the cathedral,” Bishop Donal McKeown told Irish state broadcaster RTE last month.
In the Philippines, where more than 90% of the population is Christian, authorities last week banned public worship through Easter Sunday in the capital of Manila and other areas as part of a quarantine prompted by an upsurge of infections.
“Numbers are surging and scientific data show that unless drastic interventions are done, these numbers will not decline anytime soon,” Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao, who closed parishes voluntarily before the government order, said in a statement.
Some U.S. churches are choosing to remain closed as well. The Church at Clarendon, a Baptist church in Arlington, Va., has held all of its services online for more than a year and will do so again Sunday.
On Thursday afternoon, the church is offering premade communion cups for people to pick up on foot or in their cars. It will be the first time senior pastor Danielle L. Bridgeforth has seen most of her members in person in more than a year.
On Sunday morning, the church will set up a big wooden cross outside for members to decorate with live flowers—an annual tradition usually held inside the sanctuary.
“It literally transforms from death to life right in our midst,” Ms. Bridgeforth said. “I know how powerful that is, and it means a lot for us to come together to do that.”
Source: Wall Street Journal