GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Many Christians across the country and here in Eastern North Carolina celebrated Easter Sunday in person for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So two years ago, right after March, everything was shut down,” said Asher Panton, senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church.

“And we immediately had to figure out how to go online and produce our first Easter service online. Last year, we streamed from our service, but no one was here. So that was empty. So this is our first time where we’ve had everyone back together again, in person in our sanctuary on an Easter in three years.”

After adapting to continue church services throughout the pandemic, on Sunday morning, the pews of the church were full again with church members and guests.

“Everybody was here celebrating together,” Panton said. “So it was nice. It was a very much a family atmosphere and a lot of comfort of being together again. We’ve had our flower cross, which we haven’t been able to do inside and three years. And so that’s usually outside. So it felt a lot of familiar familiarity of what is normal. And I think we’re just a sense of normalcy again, here on Easter.”

Panton added there’s a sense of community when everyone is together. He also said being in person again makes it easier to practice your faith.

“I think one thing that’s exciting about this Easter is we know there is some sense of things going back to normal and us being together represents the churches all over the world being back together again. So it’s kind of a sense of a new beginning and a fresh start, which is really what Easter is all about, you know, a new, a new rebirth of the church and hopefully we can continue to move forward in those directions together,” said Panton.

Panton said being able to worship all together again made for a momentous occasion.