This Easter Sunday, some families celebrated in-person and others online. For a Lansing church this was their first time opening their doors for in-person service during the pandemic.
Leaders of Antioch church were excited to finally see their church members’ faces despite the small turnout.
“It was wonderful just to be able to see everybody come together,” said First Lady Crystal Thomas.
Before the pandemic, Antioch church had 75 to 100 members every Sunday, but today there were about 30.
Pastor Edward Thomas says they were not sure about having service in-person because of the spike in cases.
“The numbers looked better a few weeks ago then the numbers started going a little crazy. We started getting a little nervous about it but we went on ahead and went with it and we had a good service today,” he said.
Antioch church went strictly online when the pandemic started, and they say going virtual actually helped the church reach more people.
“Online has really grown a lot. I have people from Africa, I have people from Texas, and people from California. So we’re going to continue that aspect of the ministry,” says Pastor Thomas.
First Lady Thomas says they’ve had a COVID-19 reopening plane since last year.
“We have had this in place since about May of last year, May, Junish, and then we just had to wait.”
Today they were finally able to put their plan to use.
“We’re following all the social distance protocols, we got signs all over the church, we’ve got hand sanitizing stations throughout the church. Of course, we have signs that talk about if you don’t feel well stay home and we’ve been communicating that message,” Pastor Thomas said. “We took every precaution to make sure everyone stayed and they had an enjoyable service today.”
Every other pew was also closed off, and families sat together in their own rows.
Church members still had the option to attend service online. Pastor Thomas says he hoped things would be back to normal by now, and Easter Sunday could carry on as usual. Despite the “new normal”, he takes what he can get.
“We had to do it this way and with that expectation it met everyone of my needs and my wants, but I wanted it to be packed and I wanted it to all be over but that’s not the way it is right now,” Pastor Thomas said.
Although the pews did not look how they did two years ago, being together again was priceless.
“It’s just something about being able to get together and be encouraged that way,” said First Lady Thomas.
After today the church will return to online service via Facebook but they may open their doors again on Mother’s Day.