For the last year, churches in Airdrie and the surrounding area have had to adapt their traditional in-person services and facilitate an online audience due to government restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Churches had to shift online early in the pandemic, and many continue to provide both in-person and online offerings to their congregants – and Easter Sunday will be no exception.
“We recognize this as an important week in the lives of followers of Jesus and a pivotal weekend for reflection and renewal of the faith,” said John Harrison, the senior pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Airdrie.
“Good Friday reminds us of God’s great love for all people, as Jesus died on the cross to forgive sin and restore a person’s relationship with Him.”
According to Harrison, Easter Sunday is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and “reminds us that we have new life in Christ, and the power to move past all that holds us back.”
Recognizing the importance that the Easter weekend holds for churchgoers, Harrison said Grace Baptist Church will be planning two in-person services on Good Friday and three on Easter Sunday, with a 15 per cent attendance capacity.
“We are thankful the Alberta government has allowed churches to continue to meet despite some restrictions,” said Harrison, who added that both services will require online registration due to government limitations on the number of attendees.
A livestream of the services will also be available at 11:15 a.m. on Good Friday, and 10 a.m. on Easter Sunday.
Likewise, Kingdom City Church in Airdrie will be offering both in-person and livestreamed services, and according to the church’s executive assistant Janet Warkentin, will be following all provincial COVID-19 guidelines.
“We know that many people in our church are eager to gather to celebrate this important event, and we know from past years, this is an important celebration that draws many from the broader community as well,” she said.
With seating restrictions in place, this has created a challenge for the church that they have responded to by holding six in-person services this year, including one Good Friday service at 10:30 a.m., which will also be livestreamed, and five resurrection services, with two on Friday evening at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., and three on Easter Sunday at 8:30 p.m., 10:30 a.m. (also livestreamed), and 12:30 p.m.
“As a church, we have been adapting to make sure our church family and others from the region have safe access to worship services, care and community, and tangible needs,” added Warkentin.
“We also recognize that many are still not comfortable gathering in person, so we’re so happy to be able to provide online worship services every Sunday.”
The church will also offer special celebrations for kids, including in-person Kingdom Kids programming on April 2 at 6 p.m. and at all three Sunday services. They will also be providing online offerings for kids, including a virtual Easter egg hunt, which will be accessible on their website on April 4.
While some local churches offer in-person service, Balzac United Church, located south of the city, has announced it will only be providing online sermons via Zoom this Easter weekend.
According to Minister Rita Cattel, the church has been closed for most of the pandemic and plans to remain closed until it is deemed safe to resume in-person services.
“We are not going to reopen the building until it is the lowest risk possible for everyone who attends,” she said.
“The Zoom services let us see each other and chat although we can’t meet in person. It gives us a chance to catch up and see how things are going with each other.”
Cattell said that Balzac United’s Easter plans will include an online Good Friday service and an online Easter service two days later.
Further information on Grace Baptist, Kingdom City, and Balzac United’s online and in-person services can be accessed through their websites at graceairdrie.ca, kingdomcity.ca and balzacunitedchurch.com
—With files from Jordan Stricker/Rocky View Weekly