Coronavirus Outbreak

Churches Preparing For In-Person Easter Services

Following social distancing guidelines, places of worship finding ways to socially distance congregate for holy week activities.

NBC Connecticut

A year ago, places of worship needed to rely on technology to present Easter services. This year, the challenge is different as they try to find ways to safely host people.

Outside the Trinity Covenant Church in Manchester is a drive-thru prayer experience. Adapting to COVID-19 conditions, the church implemented this as part of its Easter ceremonies last year.

While the drive-thru has returned in 2021, it exists as a supplement to what the congregation really wants.

“We want everyone to be in here,” said Pastor Diane Borden. “I think this will be our first really full [event], and every chair in here will be filled.”

Trinity Covenant has held in-person worship since July. They've modified the room, replacing pews with tables six feet apart. Attendees are also required to make reservations.

In Hartford, the Urban Hope Refuge Church held last year’s Easter ceremonies outside in a parking lot.

“Instead of raising your hands and shouting hallelujah, we beeped on [car] horns,” said Pastor AJ Johnson.

This year, Johnson is looking forward to having congregates back in his house of worship, which opened to in-person services at the beginning of March.

“People are starting to gravitate back. People are starting to connect with one another again,” he said.

In New Britain, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church has been open in some capacity since June. To accommodate parishioners, every other pew is chained off and ushers will individually seat guests.

“We’re doing everything we can at Easter to keep everyone safe and healthy but also the feel very welcome,” said Father Michael Casey.

For Christians everywhere, this is the holiest week of the year. Mattie Sinclair of New Britain is a devout Christian and is looking forward to attending Easter services in person this year without hesitation.

“I am very comfortable,” she said. “Because I trust in the good Lord.”

Since March 19, places of worship have been allowed full capacity as long as masks are worn and social distance guidelines are followed. Don Boyle of New Britain is happy to follow those guidelines because for him, Easter wasn’t the same in 2020.

“Last year, it was watching on TV. This year it’s a whole different ball game,” Boyle said.

As Easter approaches, faith leaders said they’re ready and are looking forward to seeing their followers.

“People are welcome to come to church and we want them to come,” said Father Casey.

Churches who spoke with NBC Connecticut said they realize not everyone is comfortable attending in-person services and are planning to continue live streaming for the foreseeable future.

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