Easter Sunday churches to have limited in person services

Madhu Mayer | 3/31/2021, noon
Returning to normalcy during a global pandemic is slowly taking shape this Easter season, particularly in area churches. Unlike last ...

Returning to normalcy during a global pandemic is slowly taking shape this Easter season, particularly in area churches.

Unlike last year when many worship services were held via Zoom, churches are allowing in-person attendance, albeit on a smaller scale.

Edith Fairley, secretary at Second Baptist Church at 156 S. Joliet St., said all precautions are being followed when it comes to allowing people to attend services.

"We do temperature checks and pass out masks if someone does not have it," said the secretary of Second Baptist, which is the oldest African-American church in Joliet. The church has been ministering in the area since 1880.

Considering the congregation is fairly old in age and vulnerable to the coronavirus, Fairley said members are hesitant to attend in-person services, even though social distancing is encouraged. But she said it is slowly changing as more and more people are getting vaccinated, though she does not expect a full crowd on Sunday like in years past.

"We normally get 100 to 150 people for Easter Sunday service," she said. "This year, we are allowing only 55."

While Easter Sunday service at 10:30 a.m. is open to anyone on a first-come, first-serve basis, Fairley said there will be no worship opportunities for members on Good Friday.

"We normally partner with sister churches in the area and have Good Friday service," which, Fairley, said will not be the case this week. "But this is better than last year."

Curtis Bryant, senior pastor, said Mount Zion Baptist Church in Joliet is taking small steps toward in-person worship service.

"My hope is as the weather gets warmer, we can transition to outdoor services," said Bryant. This Easter, the service at 10 a.m. will be held in the parking lot of the church at 402 Singleton Place. "Given the history of what this church means to the community, there is sadness in not having physical presence at services."

Mount Zion is one of the oldest and largest African-American churches in Will County. It sits in what is affectionately referred to as the East side of Joliet, which is the African-American portion of the city.

But Bryant said Mount Zion has no problem continuing with virtual services in the future if the weather does not cooperate.

"We would rather miss you than mourn you," he said.

Mildred Jackson of Bolingbrook, who often attends services at St. Mary Church in Plainfield, said she is looking forward to Easter Sunday.

"There is no way you can do a virtual worship service from home," she said. "The true experience is being in the church with other members, worshipping and spreading the Gospel."

Mark Mastny of Shorewood said he too wants to be inside the church on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

"Christmas and Easter are the biggest days of the year for our family to attend church," said Mastny. "Last year, it was just so sad that you could not be inside the church for Easter Sunday."