WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – After pandemic restrictions shut down Easter Sunday for many churches last year, places of worship are slowly and safely bringing their members back for in-person services.
Even though things aren’t completely back to normal, four local pastors say they are excited about the holiday this year. The safety guidelines have been lifted, and they have very different ideas of what their services will look like.
Pastor Jo Mead of University United Methodist Church says the past year has been challenging but sees things slowly getting back to normal.
Mead plans to open her sanctuary next week but will be doing Easter On the Lawn for a socially distanced outdoor service with masks.
“It has really a feeling of resurrection that we have survived this incredibly difficult time,” Mead said.
Pastor Herman Hicks leads the congregation at Greater Pentecostal Church of God in Christ. Last year was the first time in his 17 years as pastor of the church they did not come together for Easter Sunday services. He will be doing a parking lot praise service so members can attend in their cars.
The COVID positivity rate has significantly decreased since last year but Hicks still wants to protect his churchgoers.
“We’re not sure how many people have been vaccinated, and we’re still concerned about the virus,” Hicks said.
Pastor Pamela Hughes Mason is also being cautious for her members at St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church. She is doing a virtual service this year and has been every Sunday since the pandemic hit. She’s not sure when she’ll return to in-person worship.
“We are taking it slow and safe, and making sure that we follow the practices of the CDC and medical professionals,” Hughes Mason said.
Pastor Bob Beckler of Central Community Church started bringing people back to his congregation in phases in June. Although the church doesn’t require its members to mask up, he says church leaders wear theirs and recommend churchgoers do, too.
“We think it’s a great way for us to demonstrate kindness towards one another,” Beckler said.
Beckler says the church will also have areas reserved for those who want to social distance.
Health orders for the city, county and state have been dropped but the city still suggests wearing masks, social distancing and limiting public gatherings to reduce the spread of COVID-19.