Coronavirus Means Changes for Local Churches During Holy Week

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It’s perhaps the most sacred week on the Christian calendar. But now, local churches are preparing to hold Holy Week services in empty sanctuaries, live streaming to the faithful watching from home.

“So, it’s weird to go do church in an empty room,” explains Pastor James Howell, with Myers Park United Methodist Church.

It’s been almost a month since the church began holding digital services.

“We’ve had more people than we would have in person. We’ve had eight, 10 thousand people joining us on Sunday morning,” Howell says.

But at one of the most religious times of the year, pastors recognize the challenge of the faithful not being able to come together.

“In the African-American tradition of worship, we use this time as a time of festival,” explains Pastor William Buie with First Calvary Baptist Church of Rock Hill.

He says it’s an opportunity to see the church as more than a building.

“We know right before Christ was crucified, he destroyed the temple, because they were doing all kinds of things in the temple,” Buie says. “From one sense, we are not in the sanctuary or the temple, but the church has just left the building.”

In the local Catholic church, Bishop Peter Jugis will hold Easter Sunday Mass online.

Father Patrick Winslow, with the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, says this is an unprecedented time.

“We’re doing our best. And people are in good spirits about it. I think that, for them, it’s a sacrifice, but they’re willing to do that,” Winslow says.

In the Jewish faith, changes are also coming to Passover.

“The hard part is how to do this without the extended family, without the friend groups that have developed,” explains Rabbi Dusty Klass, with Temple Beth El.

She says families will come together for the Seder using technology.

“Grandparents will zoom in from their house, and aunts and uncles will zoom in from their houses,” Klass says.