Local faith leaders ready to welcome worshipers for first in-person Easter services in two years

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s thought of as being the most important holiday on the Christian calendar.

Church-going families will observe the Easter holiday this weekend, a year after most in-person worship services were canceled due to COVID-19 precautions. Some houses of worship have only recently returned to in-person observances after many churches and synagogues switched to online services.

This Sunday will mark the first time Christians will gather for Easter worship since 2019.

At United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, seating for services at all five church campuses will be limited. The church is requiring reservations for church attendees who intend to attend in person. Cathy Bien, a church spokesperson, said crowd size will be limited to around 1,600 at the church’s Leawood campus. Church of the Resurrection is the city’s largest center of worship. 

“A lot of people are really anxious to celebrate Easter in person and to be back in a Christian community where they can connect with one another. We’re doing the best we can to provide that in a safe way,” Bien said on Good Friday.

In Independence, Pastor Bobby Hawk’s congregation at Epic Church will keep its regular two-service schedule on Sunday, gathering at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Overflow space will be available to accommodate a big audience like the one that came to worship on Ash Wednesday. The church has also offered online services during the pandemic.

“This is the crux of our Christian faith. The tomb is empty, so we don’t have to be,” Hawk said. “We really hope there’s an uptick in person. It’s not the same from the sofa. That’s what I tell people all the time. It’s an alternative, and I’m glad we have it.” 

In Overland Park, Father Brian Schieber at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Parish is bracing for big crowds at this Sunday’s five mass services. The church will rope off some pews to encourage social distancing.

Just like Epic Church and Church of the Resurrection, Schieber said masks will be required for people in attendance.

“We think people are excited to be back and to really worship the Lord. We don’t realize, sometimes, how important things are in our lives until they’re taken away,” Schieber said. “I’ve had people moved to tears just with the ability to come back to church for Holy Week.”

FOX4 also heard from Westside Community Church in Lenexa, where typical Easter attendance is around 4,000. That church’s spokesperson said it’s also taking precautions and preparing for a big crowd.

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