A Year Later, Easter Sunday Will Be (Almost) Normal
By LORETTA FULTON
Thinking of going shopping for a new Easter outfit? Be sure to add “white mask” to the list.
A year after Christians were stunned by the closure of churches on Easter Sunday, life is somewhat back to normal. In 2020, the traditional Easter celebrations with flowers, music, sunrise services, breakfasts, and egg hunts fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit in full force in March.
Fast forward a year and much has changed, but life is not yet back to normal. That will be evident when people attend a church service on Easter Sunday and see people wearing a mask and staying six feet apart. Those two COVID protocols are still being enforced, or at least recommended, in some churches, while others are dispensing with protocols altogether.
Easter is a season of hope and many are hopeful that churches will be as full as possible while maintaining the proper social distancing. Cliff Stewart, pastor of First Central Presbyterian Church, is hopeful enough of a big turnout that he urged people in an email to attend the early service, which begins at 8:30 a.m., leaving more space for people at the 11 a.m. service.
“We encourage you to attend the early service on Easter day to help with social distancing,” he said. “Both services will be joyous celebrations with the flowering of the cross.”
The flowering of the cross is a popular tradition in many churches and will be especially appreciated a year after there were few in-person Easter services. First Baptist Church will have a cross to flower on the building’s front porch and one in the sanctuary, said Mike Greenfield, pastor for administration and spiritual development.
“People are encouraged to bring flowers from their garden or purchase them,” Greenfield said, “to put on the cross, which will then be covered with flowers as a sign of new life.”
Some who normally attend in-person worship, especially on Easter, are choosing virtual services instead, an option that became popular last year as pastors scrambled for ways to continue worshiping while in COVID shutdown.
A recent Pew Research Center survey found that only 39 percent of respondents plan to attend an in-person church service on Easter, down from the 62 percent who normally attend.
In Abilene, plenty of opportunities exist for both in-person and online worship, as well as traditional television and radio broadcasts from some churches. At least three sunrise services will be held, at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Zion Lutheran Church, and Our Savior Lutheran Church.
Several churches also will serve breakfast and will have an egg hunt. Following is a partial list of services that will be held on Easter Sunday. Website links are provided for more information. Some of the churches listed also will have Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil services. If you would like to add a church, send information to firstname.lastname@example.org
ST. JAMES UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
3100 Barrow St.
For the second year, the Living Last Supper will not be held at St. James UMC. Last year, an abbreviated version was filmed and presented on the church’s YouTube channel. The live performance dates to 1988 but moved online a year ago due to COVID-19. This year, a traditional Maundy Thursday service will begin at 6 p.m. and the Good Friday tenebrae service also will begin at 6. The Easter Sunday service starts at 10 a.m. Masks are required and social distancing will be encouraged. For those choosing to stay home, the service can be seen on the YouTube channel. The Sunday service will be followed by an egg hunt.
ALDERSGATE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
1741 Sayles Blvd.
Aldersgate will have Easter Sunday service in person and online (Facebook and Youtube). There is a sunrise service in our community garden at 7:15 am (in person only). We will have our traditional service in the sanctuary at 9 a.m. and our modern service in the fellowship hall at 11 a.m.
ST. PAUL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
525 Beech St.
St Paul UMC will have a Easter sunrise service at 7 a.m. at Diamondback National Golf Club In-person worshipwill begin at 11 a.m. in the church sanctuary, 525 Beech St. Everyone is asked to wear a mask to the indoor service.
GRACE LUTHERAN (ELCA) AND ST. MARK’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Joint service at Grace Lutheran Church, 1202 S. Pioneer Drive
Members of Grace Lutheran Church will worship jointly with the congregation of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church at 10 a.m. Easter Sunday. The joint service will be at Grace Lutheran.
ZION LUTHERAN CHURCH (Missouri Synod)
2801 Antilley Road
Three services, including sunrise, traditional, and contemporary will be held at Zion Lutheran Church on Easter Sunday. An egg hunt and breakfast also are on the menu.
The sunrise service begins at 6:30 a.m. inside the church and will feature a drama with three women at the tomb and with Pastor Clyde Kieschnick delivering a monologue as an angel. That service will be followed by breakfast from 7:30 to 9 a.m. An egg hunt will be held 9:45 to 10:30 a.m.
A traditional service will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by a contemporary service at 10:45. The 8:30 and 10:45 services will be in-person and livestreamed on YouTube, which can be accessed on the church’s website.
No COVID restrictions will be in place, but masks and social distancing will be respected.
OUR SAVIOR LUTHERAN CHURCH (Missouri Synod)
4933 S. Seventh St.
A sunrise service will begin at 7 a.m., followed by a traditional service at 10:30 a.m. That service will be livestreamed on Facebook Live (@oursaviorabilene)
No COVID protocols will be enforced.
PIONEER DRIVE BAPTIST CHURCH
701 S. Pioneer Drive
Pioneer Drive Baptist Church is offering a variety of ways to celebrate Easter, with in-person worship, livestreaming on Facebook Live, and on the radio.
Masks and social distancing are encouraged for in-person worship. A service led by the Celebration Choir and Orchestra will begin at 9 a.m. at the Abilene Convention Center, 1101 N. Sixth St. That service also will be aired on AM radio channel 1560.
A 10 a.m. service will be held in the church sanctuary, 701 S. Pioneer Drive, led by The Gathering worship team. That service will be livestreamed on Facebook Live.
At 11 a.m., worship will be led by the Celebration Choir & Orchestra at the convention center.
WYLIE BAPTIST CHURCH
6097 Buffalo Gap Road
Wylie Baptist will have two in-person services on Easter morning, at 8 and 10:30 a.m. Masks are recommended.
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
1333 N. Third St.
First Baptist Church will offer a full array of activities, with Sunday School beginning at 9 a.m., followed by in-person worship at 10:30. Masks are encouraged and pews will be roped off to ensure social distancing. The service also can be seen on KRBC television or on the church’s Facebook page. The service also can be accessed through the church’s website. First Baptist also will have two crosses that people can add flowers to. One will be on the front porch of the church. Another will be in the sanctuary and will be flowered during the service.
Prior to the 10:30 a.m. service, a special 30-minute Easter musical program will be presented on KRBC. The program featuring the Sanctuary Choir and Celebration Orchestra, plus encouraging thoughts from Phil Christopher, pastor, will begin at 9 a.m.
FIRST CENTRAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
400 Orange St.
First Central Presbyterian Church will return to two Sunday services, beginning on Easter Sunday, and continuing. Online worship also will continue on a permanent basis.
Members and guests will be asked to wear a mask to church and practice social distancing. The two services will be at 8:30 and 11 a.m. An egg hunt will be held between the services.
SOUTHERN HILLS CHURCH OF CHRIST
3364 Buffalo Gap Road
An in-person and virtual worship service will begin at 10 a.m. Easter Sunday. The YouTube virtual service can be accessed on the church’s website, sohillschurch.org/live. Masks are recommended indoors but not required. Social distancing also is encouraged.
HIGHLAND CHURCH OF CHRIST
425 Highland Ave.
Highland Church of Christ will have an in-person worship service with masks and social distancing on Easter at 10. We will also live stream the service for anyone who does not feel comfortable meeting in our assembly yet. You can find our services on facebook, youtube and our website, highlandchurch.org. While we are optimistic about relaxing our social distancing and safety protocols in the near future as vaccines continue to become more prevalent here in Abilene, right now we continue to be committed to loving our neighbor and caring for the most at risk during this unusual season.
BELTWAY PARK CHURCH
North campus: 2850 Highway 351
South campus: 4009 Beltway South
In-person and virtual worship will be featured at both campuses of Beltway Park Church. A new five-week series titled “What We Really Need” will begin on Easter Sunday.
Virtual worship will be available at live.beltway.org, Facebook Live, and YouTube Service on North campus services will be at 8:15, 9:45, and 11:30 a.m. Services on the south campus will begin at 9 and 10:45 a.m.
EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF THE HEAVENLY REST
602 Meander St.
Easter Sunday will be a busy day at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest. Some events require registration, as noted. Worship services will be livestreamed on Facebook Live, @heavenlyrestabilene or www.heavelyrestabilene.org/live. The schedule follows
8 a.m. Holy Eucharist – Nave [Click here to register]
9 a.m. Morning worship with Flowering of the Cross – Courtyard [Click here to register]
10 a.m. Easter Egg Hunt
10:30 a.m. Festival Holy Eucharist with Flowering of the Cross – Nave (livestreamed) [Click here to register]
1 p.m. Holy Eucharist in Swahili – Nave
3 p.m. Easter Egg Hunt
ST. MARK’S EPISCOPAL AND GRACE LUTHERAN
Joint service at Grace Lutheran Church, 1202 S. Pioneer Drive
Members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church will meet jointly with the Grace Lutheran Church congregation at 10 a.m. Easter Sunday.
NEW HOPE CHURCH
3122 S. Clack St.
One service will be held at 10 a.m. Easter Sunday.
CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF SAN ANGELO
Bishop Michal Sis of the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo will celebrate Mass at 12 noon Easter Sunday at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in San Angelo. The Mass will be livestreamed on the Cathedral’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SanAngeloCathedral. The Mass will remain available to view on Facebook after the livestream.
ST. VINCENT PALLOTTI CATHOLIC CHURCH
2525 Westview Drive
Easter Masses will be at 8:30 a.m. (Spanish), 10 a.m. (English), and 5:30 p.m. (English)
SACRED HEART CATHOLIC CHURCH
837 Jeanette St.
HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC CHURCH
5410 Buffalo Gap Road
Masses are at 9 and 10:30 a.m. and at noon
ST. FRANCIS CATHOLIC CHURCH
826 Cottonwood St.
Easter Masses will be at 9 a.m. (English) and 11 a.m. (Spanish). An egg hunt will follow the 11 a.m. service.