Easter reason remains: Congregants flock to digital services

Coronavirus

'Easter the same for us meeting in our homes or meeting in a big church'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s fair to say more people attend church services on Christmas and Easter than most Sundays. But this Sunday it’s Easter in the pandemic, and services will be decidedly different.

For 2 weeks, Pastor Doug Frazier of Vancouver’s Living Hope Church held drive-in church services.

“It was incredible. The response was pretty amazing,” Pastor Frazier told KOIN 6 News. “It brought back the nostalgia for people of drive-in movies. A simple FM transmitter just allowed us to be able to communicate right there in the lot,” adding their overall attendance went up.

Vancouver’s Living Hope Church held drive-in services in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, March 2020 (Courtesy photo)

Living Hope Church offered the drive-in services early on, but suspended those drive-in services after Gov. Jay Inslee’s “stay home order.”

So this week, his 1500 parishioners will join Easter services throught the Living Hope Church’s Facebook page.

“Seems to be working out real well. Our viewerships are way up and we’re happy about that. People need to be turning to their faith and, in our case, to our faith being in Christ in this difficult time.”

It’s a similar story at Beaverton’s Foursquare Church, where 6000 members regularly attend services.

LIST: Portland-area churches offering
Easter Sunday live streams amid virus

“We’ve switched to online services,” Steve Mitchell told KOIN 6 News. For this weekend they “produced a special Easter service. We shot that earlier this week.”

Mitchell said they’ve shifted from sharing content in-person to online.

Steve Mitchell leads Beaverton’s Foursquare Church (Undated courtesy photo)

“If they just go to our website B4church.org, right on the Home Page there’s a link to our services. They’re one click away from our service experience.”

He knows it’s tough for people right now not being able to be with those you love.

“The advice we’re giving our congregants is, #1, be OK with feeling that. In the Christian tradition there’s a long history of lament that when people are hurting, it’s OK to feel that and to express that,” Mitchell said. “The other thing we’re encouraging them to do is just be there for one another and their neighbors.”

The other outreach he’s encouraged is for younger people to write notes and call the older people, who tend to be more isolated physically and digitally.

Pastor Doug Frazier of Vancouver’s Living Hope Church records an online service during the coronavirus pandemic, April 2020 (Courtesy photo)

“It’s still a Happy Easter because the reason we gather at Easter is to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, and that’s the same for us whether we’re meeting in our homes or we’re meeting in a big church,” Mitchell said. “That doesn’t change.”

Pastor Frazier feels the same way.

“What we celebrate this weekend is his victory and we hope that people will join us online.”

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