As many worship services continue to adapt to the ever-changing situation brought on by COVID-19, a number of churches in Rocky View County (RVC) are moving forward with plans to celebrate Easter this year, both online and in person.
“Things continue to be different for our churches, and for RockPointe in particular, as we have sought to respond in a way that aligns with what the government is asking in terms of guidelines,” said Jeff Watt, pastor of creative arts with RockPointe Church.
According to Watt, it was only in the last few weeks the church decided to offer in-person services at two of the three locations where services are normally offered. While the church’s Bowridge and Bearspaw locations will offer services, the Westhills location located in Ambrose University College in Calgary will remain on hold for the time being.
He added, with Easter happening on April 4, demand will likely be higher for in-person services.
“We will be adding extra services at both locations just to provide as much opportunity as we can for those who want to experience something in person,” he said.
Watt said although there are in-person services, with registration and capacity practices, the majority of service viewers will still take place online this Easter.
“For us, that is a pre-produced experience that is recorded in advance,” he said.
Prior to COVID-19, the three RockPointe locations would potentially see as many as 1,700 people coming in for Easter services. Now, with a 15 per cent capacity and a number of other restrictions in effect, operations will look very different for those who secure the available in-person slots.
“We would tend to see the numbers bump up due to the importance of Easter on the Christian calendar,” Watt said. “There are a lot of things we have had to adapt [to] and navigate. We have also had to adjust our expectations for what the experience is like.”
Watt said the service will still include sermons and live music, but everyone will be masked and socially distanced. Additionally, the after-service hangouts that are a big part of the church experience are not allowed to happen.
“For people who are a part of a church, there is something irreplaceable about gathering together,” he said. “Even though it feels very different, the people who come are willing to set the differences aside. To be together in the same physical space, we will take what we can get.”
Separately, Balzac United Church, which is a lot smaller in size, will continue with online services via Zoom. Minister Rita Cattell said the church has been closed for most of the pandemic and will carry on that way 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.
Cattell said Easter plans will involve an online Good Friday service on April 2, along with a normal Easter service two days later.
“The Zoom services let us see each other and chat although we can’t meet in person,” she said. “It gives us a chance to catch up and see how things are going with each other.”