Local church welcomes back congregation for Easter

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. – This time last year, many churches closed their doors due to the pandemic and went completely virtual. Today, some churches across Michiana are welcoming people inside for the first time in over a year.

At St. Peter’s United Church of Christ plans to hold an in-person Easter service on April 4. Pastor Scott Bowie said the in-person congregation is the first since March of 2020.

“We took seriously our role to protect our congregation, and we affirm that. And so, we resisted the impulse to come back too early because we didn’t want to risk anybody’s health,” Bowie said.

St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in South Bend held its last worship service on March 8 of 2020. They completed closed their doors and went virtual on March 29, 2020. Throughout the year, they’ve held online services and have collaborated with five other congregations throughout Michiana.

Pastor Bowie said they decided to remain closed even after other churches opened their door with limited capacity to keep their congregation safe. For Easter Sunday, St. Peter’s United Church of Christ will be open for worshippers once again. Pastor Bowie said Easter Sunday is a wonderful time for new beginnings.

“I’m going to be just so excited to see them, greet them, welcome them, be in the same room with them after a year,” Bowie said.

There will be some changes church-goers will notice. For starters, there won’t be any congregational signing. Instead, there will be a choir. Worship guides will also not be available, instead, everything will be up on a monitor.

Inside the church, there will be markings on the floor. Every other pew will be marked off, and greeters at the door will escort families to their seats to make sure everyone is socially distant from one another. Pastor Bowie said an offering plate is not going around during the service. The communion celebration will also be different. People will be able to pick up their self-contained cup of bread and wine at the door upon entering the church.

Pastor Bowie said the congregation will be different and could be difficult as people haven’t seen each other for over a year.

‘This congregation cherishes is greeting each other with a hug or a kiss or a handshake and that’s going to be hard for them not to do. To realize that we can’t do that anymore, but we can still constitute ourselves as a community of faith with non-tactile greetings,” Bowie said.

People will still need to wear masks and stay socially distanced. There also won’t be any child care services or Sunday School.

The in-person service starts at 11 a.m. on April 4, 2021. It will also be live-streamed online here.

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