ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Christians across the Stateline are observing Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday.
Worshippers can expect a few changes to services, thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Local churches have begun offering in-person attendance along with live-streaming of their services.
“I’m going to do this once, Easter Sunday. I’m allowing whoever shows at the door this Sunday to come in. So it might be right at 55, but the sanctuary will space them out with plenty of room,” said Pastor Calvin Culpepper, of Court Street United Methodist Church.
In Brian Rotert’s six years as part of the clergy at Central Christian Church, he’s never had an Easter quite like this, and says he’s making sure those who choose to attend services are safe.
“We want to make sure people feel safe and comfortable to attend,” Rotert said. “We’re following all of the Winnebago County Health Department guidelines. We take it really seriously. We’re not just going through the motions; we want to make sure people feel comfortable.”
As an added safety precaution, Rotert says the church has installed a collection box for offerings at the entrances to the building, to avoid deacons passing around a collection basket.
“We started to allow people to give online. So, a lot of people will just give on their phone or laptop or whatever. So, that’s one way to give. We have a box in the back, for people. If they do want to bring their offering with them, they can just drop it in. So, there’s no contact of any kind.”
Culpepper says he understands some people’s concern about in-person services, but says he’s encouraging parishioners to attend church, saying that the in-person experience is a different experience to watching at home.
“It’s something about you and I getting together, and you telling me about what happened in your life. And I tell you about what happened in Calvin’s life. And guess what happens? I learn something about God that I didn’t know, because I didn’t experience it,” he said. “So, there is something about gathering together that enriches and encourages us to go back in the world and live out our lives in faith.”
Pre-registration is not required ahead of time to attend either of the churches in-person services.