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Celebrating the Resurrection during COVID… Local churches return to in-person attendance makes Easter more special in 2021

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
Sunday, April 4, is a special day for over 2.5 billion Christians worldwide as Easter will be celebrated to recognize one of the two most attended religious services annually with Christmas being the other.

Easter commemorates the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In 2020, Easter services were thrown a loop due to the COVID-19 pandemic with churches scrambling to find ways to still have service for their members safely.

Many turned to Facebook or Drive-In church to ensure Easter could be celebrated albeit completely different than ever before.

Skip forward 12 months and Easter 2021 is appearing to take on a normal appearance as several churches have returned to in-person services with some still opting to remain virtual due to the virus continuing to rear its ugly head.

The reason many are returning is that vaccinations continue to increase among the community residents along with the continued wearing of masks which is not required but requested to continue to protect against the virus.

One local pastor is excited for Easter to be celebrated in person as Roan Street Church of God pastor Rev. Jody Bewley reflected on the importance of in-person worship as well as celebrating Easter.

“I am excited about it,” Rev. Bewley said. “I am excited about multiple reasons. I am excited because it is helping us to appreciate Easter the service more, the fellowship more, to see everybody together.

“Our earthly parents like to see the whole family come together at holidays and enjoy that and I can’t help but think that our Heavenly Father to see us all together worshipping brings a blessing to Him.

“You can’t replace in-person contact and conversation and for us to be in here singing the songs of deliverance and singing the songs of resurrection and be able to preach and see people in the seats — I’m looking forward to it and can’t wait.”

Since COVID forced many to go to virtual services, even after several churches have opened attendance back into the physical sanctuary, many still have elected not to return back to their church in person.

Rev. Bewley was asked if he was concerned that many who have been away are worried about returning back to their home churches especially during Easter.

“I hope everyone that may have been out because of COVID is able to have that freedom and feel that freedom to come back but my prayer is that the people who have kept coming are welcoming them back,” stated Rev. Bewley. “The Lord wants us to be together and worship in unity not just in body but in spirit.

“It’s not going to do anybody any good for someone to be sitting over here begrudging someone else like “Where have you been all year?”

“Hey everybody come and let’s have church this is what it’s all about. Let’s get together and worship the Lord.”

Before the pandemic forced churches to turn to different venues for the purposes of worship, Rev. Bewley remembers stepping behind the pulpit during Easter services at the church he previously pastored and sharing a statement that he hopes once again to hear in his home church on Sunday morning.

“He is risen and He is risen indeed — we used to say up in Ronda (North Carolina),” Rev. Bewley said with a smile. “That is what I am going to say Sunday is that He is Risen and I am hoping everyone will respond back that He is Risen indeed.”

And while Rev. Bewley is hoping that every seat is filled at Roan Street Church of God on Sunday, his prayer and desire are for all churches in Carter County and the surrounding areas to be filled as well.

“I hope every Bible-preaching church in the county is full Sunday,” Rev. Bewley commented. “There are enough people in this county that every church could be filled twice or three times.”

It is important to note that some churches are still having limited attendance and continuing to utilize face masks and social distancing while some are still virtual.