Celebrating Easter Sunday with no Congregation

On Easter Sunday, there would be no pulpit for his message to rest on, no congregation to yell “Amen”.

Cole Tribble, Contributing Writer

Pastor Kirby Dubble looked over his message for Easter Sunday, knowing that each word will have an impact on the ears hearing it, knowing that his faith would help inject life into the text, knowing that his message would be an important one.

But this Easter, there would be no pulpit for his message to rest on, no congregation to yell “Amen” when they felt moved by the pastor’s words, not even the doors of Dubble’s church, Moonshine would be open because everyone would be staying at home, waiting to get the message on their phones.

COVID-19, a global pandemic, a disease that is being spread like wildfire, has shut down schooling, local businesses, social gatherings, and churches. A press release was [published] on April 4 [2020], where Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf talked about shutting down religious organizations.

“I know that we’re nearing several holidays, including major religious holidays like Easter and Passover,” Gov. Wolf said. “I am encouraging religious leaders hosting a holiday celebration to consider an alternative that does not bring people together in-person.

“I was disappointed,” said Pastor Dubble when describing the feeling of not being able to gather on Sundays, including Easter.

Disappointment is a common feeling across the United States during these unprecedented times, where COVID-19 in Pennsylvania alone, according to the Department of Health, has brought in over 50,000 cases that has affected the population in everyday life. It may be a dark time, but churches are choosing to still look at the bright side.

Online gathering is becoming a new trend where people are maintaining social distancing but are still able to socialize with each other. On Easter, most churches adapted to this new trend  and were able to spread their message virtually. But what if the church doesn’t have the resources?

What if it is Moonshine Church, a smaller church where on average, 60 people make up the congregation and lack technological resources? Well, first, the original plan is cut.

There would be no Wednesday service where prayers and sharing timing is encouraged.  There would be no Easter service on Sunday where the children would get gifts and messages would be shared. But for Dubble and Moonshine, that was okay.

Instead, a sermon would be posted on Facebook for anyone with an account to watch, a message of encouragement would be sent by the pastor himself through his phone, and the feeling of faith would still be present.

“There is a strong belief that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ every day,” said Pastor Dubble informing that the Easter celebration doesn’t always have to be an extravaganza.

Members of the Congregation like Sharon Ollar are disappointed in having to stay at home on Easter, but that does not mean they are not making it work. Sharon and her husband would practice Easter traditions and watch an online sermon in the comfort of their own home.

Moonshine may have been making it work, but not being able to gather was being missed. For a smaller church, the congregation feels more like a family than a religious group.

“Longing for my heart to be with family of faith,” said Ollar

Like Ollar, the congregation understands the safety of staying at home, but their heart is hoping to be reunited with their loved ones at Moonshine Church.

“It is that human contact that is very special,” said Pastor Dubble

Easter might have looked different for people practicing the Christian faith, but at the same time, some things did not change.

Sermons were still watched, religious practices were still being done at home,  loved ones  still cherished each other; life was still going on.

Even if you need a little help, to help you figure out what day it is.

“Sundays just kind of blend in with every other day of the week. Sometimes I don’t know what day it is without looking at my phone,” said Dave Matterness, a member of Moonshine Church.

COVID-19 has affected daily living. From our education system to the workplace, nothing is the same. This pandemic even had the strength to turn a holiday such as Easter, upside down. Churches all around the country had to make modifications to keep the message of the holiday alive.

Some Churches had it more comfortable than others, because with our society becoming technological, if you don’t have the resources, it can present a challenge. A challenge, Moonshine church accepted with open arms. A challenge that the pastor himself accepted.

Dubble woke up Easter morning, unfazed by the circumstances around him, and proceeded with his day. Coffee was made, the dog was walked, the Bible was read, a sermon was watched, and the enjoyment of the day was sinking in.

How can a Pastor enjoy a day that was supposed to be completely different? What could he possibly say about this circumstance?

Since he was a boy, a message given to him by his grandfather, has stuck with him.

“We need to be smelling the roses and sharing the love,” said Pastor Dubble

He smelt the roses that Easter, all was missing was sharing the love.

Dubble looked over his electronic message for Easter Sunday, knowing that each word that he typed will have an impact on the all the ears hearing the text aloud, knowing that his faith would contribute in creating life into his words, knowing that his message of encouragement would be an important one.

Satisfied with his message, he clicked send.  Just like that, the love was shared.

For information on COVID-19 and the impact it  is having on everyday Pennsylvanian life, visit www.health.pa.gov


Tribble originally submitted this article in May 2020.