It was a bit of “an adventure,” but the lead pastor at one Red Deer church says Easter service was a success, despite being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic for the second straight year.
“When Easter came last year we thought, ‘Well this is one time only. At least next year we’ll have it all figured out,’” said Rev. Ben Elliott, of Deer Park Alliance Church.
“Last year … we got special permission to do a drive-in service, which was great. We were so thankful for it. This year, because we were able to meet in person in small groups, like a number of churches we met in multiple small services staggered throughout the morning.”
There is a “real need” for people to connect with others, but it’s also important everyone remain safe during the pandemic, said Elliott.
“Like everyone else, we want to do our part for our neighbours and our community. All the pastors in the region are doing similar things – online, staggering their services.
“It’s a challenge and there are a lot of changes. For example we have pre-sealed, individually packaged communion cups, so there’s no contact from person to person. We’re glad to make those little accommodations,” he said.
With Sunday’s Easter service now complete, Elliott is looking ahead to Tuesday, when the provincial government will declare a Day of Multi-Faith Prayer and Reflection.
In an email sent to faith leaders throughout the province, minister of culture, multiculturalism and status of women Leela Sharon Aheer said the day will acknowledge the importance of faith and faith-based communities for Albertans, especially in response to difficulties presented during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In these challenging times, connection to faith and community has played an integral role in cultivating hope and building strong, connected communities,” said Aheer.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been uplifting to see how faith-based organizations continue to play an essential role in maintaining social connection, supporting mental health, and building resiliency among their communities. This is vital work, and we are grateful to you for doing it.”
On this day, the provincial government is encouraging faith leaders and community members to share their own reflections and messages of hope on social media, using the hashtags #shareyourprayerAB and #shareyourreflectionAB.
Elliott will be sharing a message through social media on Tuesday.