Easter 2020 will be remembered as the year that pastors and churches within The Wesleyan Church had to exercise extra creativity in sharing about and celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. Most churches across North America were closed April 12, 2020, due to government mandates of no large gatherings taking place in the wake of COVID-19.
Following are snapshots of how a few Wesleyan churches celebrated Easter across the U.S. and Canada.
According to Rev. Peter Moore, district superintendent for Atlantic District, “the gospel was proclaimed across the Atlantic region with record online engagement. While physical distancing remains the law of the land, churches found ways to reach out to those in need and to share Jesus.”
Rev. Vince Robertson of West Head Wesleyan Church challenged church families to create an Easter-themed window decoration for the community to enjoy. In lieu of a welcome time, a special presentation of pictures of the church families dressed up for Easter was played in its online service.
Pastor Danielle Freed, who co-pastors with her husband, John, at Waterline Church in Fishers, said, “A local assisted and independent living complex asked us to come and have church at sunrise, outside, on each side of the complex for the residents who are quarantined to their rooms/balconies. It was so meaningful.”
The Bridge Church (Charles City) and Cedar Valley Church (Waterloo) dropped off bags with Easter eggs, candy and other gifts to homes around their cities. The Bridge Church also shared testimonies of its congregants online to share the gospel.
Living Hope Wesleyan Church (Cedar Rapids) also used congregant testimonies and shared them online to tell others about Jesus.
Hoover Wesleyan Church (Walker) Crossfire Church (West Union) hosted drive-in services.
Rev. Jason Holdridge of Impact: A Wesleyan Church in Lowell, Michigan, reported that 80 people placed their faith in Christ during Easter weekend services. “We had 14 decisions on Saturday and 66 decisions on Sunday. According to our calculations, we had nearly 2,200 conservatively tuned in online to our Easter service. We usually have about 1,800 tune in, so it’s amazing to see how God is using this obstacle to create new opportunities.”
Pastors Bob and Sandy Lenz of Restoration Community Church in Scott City traveled to church members’ homes to share a short message on their porches on Easter Sunday. Folks signed up ahead of time for porch visits.
Good News Community Church in Festus reported that a lady from the community whom they have never seen before, emailed Rev. Jack King to say their family watched the service and that her son came to know Jesus. They also baptized him in their bathtub.
Camden Wesleyan Church in Camden has established a Facebook group for live service viewings. “One of the most significant discoveries has been how many of our neighbors in the region made the effort to join us,” said Rev. Gary VanRiper. “Many people from around the country have joined who, at one time, attended the church or who visit the church during summers. Even one of our missionaries in the Bahamas has joined.”
Wallace Wesleyan Church in Wallace had a Good Friday service with Communion that seemed “well received and several said they felt connected even in isolation.” After Sunday service, Rev. Bill Spencer and his wife, Kathleen, sang “Because He Lives” on their front porch and wished the community a happy Easter via Facebook, where they posted themselves singing.
Several churches held drive-in services and Communion services, while First Wesleyan Church in Bessemer City held a service at a local drive-in theater. Other churches in the state distributed candy as a way to minister to families, since Easter egg hunts were canceled.
Connect Church in Ponca City held a drive-in church service.
First Wesleyan Church in Bartlesville provided “Easter in a Bag” experiences for families earlier in the week; three people responded on Sunday that they had come to know Christ. The bag included Bible passages and activities related to celebrating the resurrection.
Sooner Park Wesleyan Church held a service in a Bartlesville cemetery, where Rev. Greg McNall preached a sermon.
At Ashland Wesleyan Church in Osceola Mills, Rev. Howard Cilento, Jr., and his wife, Michele, provided an Easter dinner to several widows and widowers who were alone. “Michele put a short Easter message on each container,” said Cilento. “We delivered them and spent a few minutes with them.”
Berrytown Wesleyan Church in Gillett made three videos for Easter week: a Good Friday children’s message using Resurrection eggs, a second service on Holy Saturday (a music video and reading) and on Sunday a regular service. According to Facebook, video views numbered more than 800. “At least 800 people had the opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus,” said Rev. Patrick Kelly. “It has opened our eyes to see the impact a small church can make around the world with a cell phone, Bible and poor internet! I see digital ministry as part of our future.”
“I am so proud at the work our Wesleyan pastors and lay leaders are doing to continue to Unleash a Kingdom Force from everywhere to everywhere,” said Dr. Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church. “May the power of the Holy Spirit continue to draw men, women and children closer to Christ in these unprecedented times.”