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Churches in the Chattahoochee Valley prepare for Easter Sunday amid pandemic

Updated: Mar. 31, 2021 at 11:52 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Easter will once again look different for many this year as we’re still battling the pandemic.

Some churches in the Chattahoochee Valley are taking reservations while others are planning outdoor services.

Last year, First Baptist Church on 12th St. held a virtual service in an empty sanctuary. This year, they’ll be holding three services on Easter.

“We check temperature, we do the hand sanitizer and we do require masks on the inside,” said Dr. Jimmy Elder, pastor of First Baptist Church.

Elder says they’ll be having services at 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. in the church, and added a 9:30 a.m. service. The 9:30 a.m. service will be held outside on Broadway with Second Story, their college ministry.

“We’re taking reservations for 8:30 and 11 so that we would be able to place the people in the sanctuary and maximize the space while honoring the protocols. So, I’m expecting that we’ll have a good crowd. 11 o’clock is already full,” said Elder.

Reservations are not needed for the outdoor service on Broadway. Reservations for the 8:30 a.m. service can be made by calling the church at (706) 322-4468.

New this year, First Baptist will have a self-guided Stations of the Cross outside of the church from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. They will also have a Maundy Thursday service in the sanctuary at 6:00 p.m.

St. Mary’s Road United Methodist Church is holding two Easter services. The first will be a 6:30 a.m. sunrise service.

“It’s going to be held outdoors in our parking lot, so we’re looking forward to that one. Everyone is just going to bring their lawn chairs and masks and we’ll have a small outdoor service,” said Rev. Dr. Adriane Burgess, pastor of St. Mary’s Road UMC.

The second will be a larger, virtual service at 10 a.m. Burgess says they’ve been holding virtual services the past few months following a spike in COVID-19 cases after Christmas break.

She says their goal is to go back to in-person services sometime after Easter if the COVID-19 numbers continue to improve.

“With our vaccination efforts at St. Mary’s Road and more of our congregation getting vaccinated this Easter has a lot of hope that soon we’ll be able to celebrate together in greater ways. Eating together, celebrating in our sanctuary together,” Burgess explained.

“It looks like we’re on the home stretch and I’m excited for us to be back in the sanctuary for Easter,” said Elder.

First Baptist’s 11:00 a.m. service will air on WTVM Easter Sunday.

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