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Features Christians adapt to Easter away from church

Christians adapt to Easter away from church

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For the Christian community, Easter is a time of reflection as they dig deeper into the love of Christ. In the middle of pandemic fears, churches and believers around the Hattiesburg community are still worshipping, whether through Zoom video chats or Facebook Live streams. 

Junior speech pathology and audiology major Callie Crider attends St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Hattiesburg. In response to quarantine, Crider now live streams mass and communions in her apartment.

“I’ve been looking at the tragedy surrounding the pandemic and looking at the season of Easter as a reminder that Jesus rose from the dead and that we can place our hope in him,” Crider said. 

Crider and her cousin are in quarantine in Crider’s apartment, so they plan to wear their Easter dresses and watch mass in their living room. They want to celebrate the day even if they cannot physically attend church. This is because, in the midst of the chaos, Crider believes we still have to look for control and certainty in our lives, and the only certainty we have right now is in Christ. 

“Have hope and have faith. God is good and people are good. We will be okay,” Crider said. 

Junior elementary education major Sarah Sandoz also attends St. Thomas Aquinas. Similar to Crider, Sandoz plans to spend Easter in quarantined Hattiesburg this year, so she plans to livestream mass service. 

“The Catholic church being very strong in tradition when doing communion every Sunday and to not being able to physically receive the eucharist is a strange and unprecedented time for our church. A number of churches have started livestreams of mass daily, so I’ve tuned into a live stream mass every Sunday,” Sandoz said. 

Sandoz is amazed by how technology has allowed the visual aspect of worship to remain. Worship may look different, but the spirituality remains. Sandoz said she believes that the pandemic is a reflection of the true meaning of Easter. 

“It’s interesting that the pandemic came at the time when we’re entering Good Friday, and when Jesus was crucified. It’s almost symbolic. We can’t go to the physical church building, and we’re in a time of darkness that we can reflect on the sorrow and love that Christ had on the cross,” Sandoz said.

Paul Howayeck, a college pastor at Petal-Harvey Baptist Church in Petal, said he thinks this time away from the physical church building has caused modern Christians to realize true worship begins in the hearts of believers..

“We don’t worship comfort.. We worship the comforter,” Howayeck said. 

During this time of social distancing, PHBC has moved all church services online to Facebook, YouTube and the church’s website to stay connected with their congregation. They’ve also utilized Zoom and other video chats for smaller services. 

Howayeck hopes that, through this pandemic, believers realize that church is not a building. He also believes the pandemic happening on Easter could be symbolic. 

“Every Sunday is resurrection Sunday for believers. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus when we come together. Without the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus we have no hope or redemption, so this Sunday we’ll have that on our mind while we tune in online with our church family,” Howayeck said.

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