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NC Churches, Parishioners Prepare For Virtual Easter Sunday Amid Pandemic

Catholic priests live video stream the Palm Sunday mass inside the Jesus de Medinaceli church in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, April 5, 2020.
Bernat Armangue

Thousands of churches across North Carolina — and around the world — are preparing to celebrate Easter this weekend. But parishioners will likely be celebrating virtually and at home.The North Carolina Council of Churches is encouraging its 6,200 member congregations to view Easter service from their computers or mobile phones as a result of North Carolina’s stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Council's Execituve Director Rev. Jennifer Copeland

Copeland said congregations have been creative this Holy Week.

“I saw a beautiful foot-washing liturgy that was posted online by one of our denominations inviting family members to wash each other’s feet," she said. "You don’t have to go to the sanctuary.”

The North Carolina Council of Churches is made up of 18 denominations, from Evangelicals to United Methodists.

Some local law enforcement agencies are also warning against going to drive-through religious services this holiday weekend.  

The Wilmington Police Department and Hoke County Sheriff's Office are among those who are urging places of worship to continue with virtual services. Police say some local pastors have been asking whether drive-in services are allowed under the statewide stay-at-home order. It prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people, whether they are indoors or outside.

Copeland said joint services are especially good for smaller churches who don’t have the web capacity or staff.

"A lot of the churches are directing their web feeds to their denomination leaders," she said. "Not just the Methodists, the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, the AMEZs, they’ve done this I think to help their pastors take some of the load off of the work they have to do right now, which is really monumental."

Celeste Gracia covers the environment for WUNC. She has been at the station since September 2019 and started off as morning producer.
Leoneda Inge is WUNC’s race and southern culture reporter, the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position. She also is co-host of the podcast Tested and host of the special podcast series, PAULI. Leoneda is the recipient of numerous awards from AP, RTDNA and NABJ. She’s been a reporting fellow in Berlin and Tokyo. You can follow her on Twitter @LeonedaInge.
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