NEW ORLEANS — With church congregations forced to stay home, those would be packed pews will instead be empty Easter Weekend, forcing churches to get creative with services.
“If we can’t do it the normal way, I guess we have to improvise and do it the best way we can,” said Pastor Warren Ray Jr.
For Ray’s congregation at Second Free Mission Baptist Church in New Orleans, it’s a simple audio stream with a powerful connection.
“We want to continue to try to feed our flock spiritually and so that’s an important thing,” Ray said. “That’s what we’re here to do.”
On the Northshore, a group of pastors is revving up with a drive-in style Easter service in Bogalusa. Marcus Rosa, the pastor at Westside Emmanuel Baptist Church, is helping to put it all together.
“No matter where you are from, we want you to come just as you are, but you’ve got to stay in your car,” said Rosa in a Facebook video.
Other churches, like First Baptist New Orleans will broadcast virtually, through newly created YouTube channels.
“We are still really a church gathered, now just in a new medium,” said interim pastor Bo Rice.
Rice hopes virtual services reach more people then could ever fit inside the church.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans even has an online list of virtual holy week services. The Archbishop himself, held a virtual Holy Thursday Mass inside an empty St. Louis Cathedral, his first mass since being diagnosed with coronavirus.
“We’ve had to change everything that we do,” said Father Tim Hedrick from St. Catherine of Siena in Metairie.
Hedrick says cameras were recently installed inside the church to help move the spirit to computer screens and TVs.
“Our church holds a thousand people so to be preaching to an empty church looking at a camera in the back of the church, it’s very different,” Hedrick said.
Whether from the comfort of your couch, porch or car, worshiping may feel different, but one thing remains the same.
“Even though this is different for all of us, really the message of Easter has never changed, and it never will,” Rice said.