Normalcy returning as churches offer limited in-person seating for Easter

Many area churches are offering in-person Easter services in addition to live stream services for what have traditionally been the most attended Sunday services of the year.

Live-streaming church services has become the new normal for many worshippers on Sunday mornings.

However, this Easter Sunday could offer some challenges for worship leaders on what is commonly the most well-attended church service of the year.

Several churches have in-person worship scheduled along with their livestream broadcasts.

With people continuing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, some worship leaders expect an uptick in attendance on Sunday.

“We anticipate a little surge but we want to make sure we keep everybody safe,” said the Rev. Edwin Jones of Bright Star United Methodist Church. “We are going to monitor the situation.”

Jones said his church has been averaging about 50 worshipers on a typical Sunday since going to in-person services about five months ago. He said that they could safely get about 60 in the worship hall.

Douglasville First United Methodist Church has capped its services off at 120 worshipers.

Anyone wishing to attend services had to make a reservation online for one of its three services.

The Rev. Scott Brown said they have averaged between 60-70 people on a typical Sunday since returning to in-person worship.

“We have room to add more if needed,” Brown said.

He said attendance has been rising, and thinks Easter is the target date most worshipers will use to come back.

“It has been a pretty steady increase,” Brown said.

Last Easter, the entire state was under shelter-in-place orders from Gov. Brian Kemp, and services were all done digitally.

Worshipers have three options at Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist Church — in-person (limited to 50 people), livestream or in the parking lot listening to FM frequency.

The Rev. Matt Murphy said Sunday’s 10:30 a.m. in-person service will be limited to only 50 people.

“Since going to in-person worship in July, we have had no major problems,” he said.

Shepherd of the Hills will do a drive-by Easter egg hunt on Saturday.

All the churches require a mask and social distancing, according to leaders.

Pastor Greg Towler of Crossroads Church said having an in-person worship service is important to most worshipers. He said he does understand some people’s reluctance to gather in groups at this time because of the pandemic.

“To me, there is nothing like being in the presence of the Lord with other believers,” Towler said. “I think when you gather as a group, you sense the presence of the Holy Spirit.”