Churches across the East prepare for Easter services in the pandemic

Greenville

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Mask wearing, social distancing and virtual church will all be key factors in Easter services and celebrations this week.

Local church officials weighed in on how they plan to make sure their congregation stays safe during these uncertain times.

“For me this has been one of the most difficult years, but also one of the most rewarding,” said Father Ian VanHeusen, the priest St. Peter’s Catholic Church.

After a year of the pandemic, churches are looking forward to restoring some normalcy. Some churches in Eastern North Carolina are preparing their congregations for the rest of Holy Week. VanHeusen said they plan to make sure everyone stays safe.

“The big thing is when we are developing our guidelines and developing our protocols we are working with local medical professionals.”

He also said although vaccinations have been distributed to some amongst the church’s congregation, they still want to follow guidelines.

“We are following the state guidelines for social distancing, masks and things like that,” VanHeusen said. “We also have looked at how we are going to administer the sacraments and how can we do that in a way that’s safe and secure.

“The Vatican has given us wide latitude in administering the sacraments to respect people’s consciousness and respect the safety protocols being asked of us.”

The church also plans to continue offering virtual services, noting they plan to always offer that option.

“It’s helped us advance the technology to reach out to our home-bound parishioners to let them know they’re still a part of our community,” VanHeusen said.

Van Heusen said overall he is ready to watch his congregation go back to normal and notes that it may be closer than ever.

“We are seeing a return to normal,” VanHeusen said. “I think we are a little bit away from that complete return to normal but people are starting to recognize the end is in sight with this.”

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