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Most church sanctuaries will be empty Sunday as Easter celebrations and services go online.

Celebrating the resurrection of Christ will be drastically different this Easter for congregations throughout the east metro area. Due to the statewide shelter in place order under the COVID-19 health crisis, churches are finding different ways to bring the message of Easter to the faithful while still maintaining social distancing.

On Friday, Gov. Brian P. Kemp urged Georgians to plan for online or call-in religious services this weekend.

“I greatly appreciate faith leaders across our state who have made the tough decision to stop the spread of COVID-19 by suspending in-person religious services. Their leadership is literally saving lives,” said Kemp. “To all Georgians celebrating Easter this Sunday, I am pleading with you to not attend any services in person. If you attend worship services in person, you risk exposure to coronavirus — potentially endangering your life, the lives of your neighbors, and your loved ones. I know this decision is difficult, but we will get through this together.”

Like many churches, Covington First Presbyterian will offer an online service. Neeley Rentz Lane, senior pastor, said a pre-recorded service will be shared on the church’s website and Facebook page at 11 a.m. Before and after the service, Lane said she and Rev. Kimmy Briggs will go on Facebook Live to share an Easter message with those attending via the internet. Lane said the bulletin for the service will be posted on the church website, www.fpccov.org.

In the opening announcements, Lane said worshipers will be invited to create a worship space in their homes by gathering together a candle, a cross, a white cloth to represent the linens of communion, bread and juice.

“God is present with us in our homes, so we are going to do a virtual gathering for communion,” she said.

Although the manner in which believers celebrate Easter will be different this year, Lane said the message remains the same.

“This Lenten season we have found ourselves on a wilderness road, especially as we faithfully seek to be the church, living with the hard realities of COVID-19,” she said. “Indeed, this day we do grieve we will not be in our sanctuary proclaiming together, ‘He is risen indeed!’ Nevertheless, we recognize and lean into the truth that God is present with us, no matter where we find ourselves this Easter. Our prayers are with and for our Covington community. May we all share in Easter joy this day. Hallelujah, He is risen. He is risen indeed!”

Rockdale Baptist Church is taking a different approach to social distancing and worshiping. Weather permitting, worshipers will gather in their cars in the back parking lot of the church located at 1295 Smyrna Road, Conyers, at 10:30 p.m. According to a church spokesperson, those attending will be asked to stay in their cars and listen to the Easter message, broadcast over a local radio station, on their car radios.

In case of inclement weather, the Easter message will be presented on the church’s website, www.rockdalebaptist.org.

Online Easter services may also be found at most area churches, including:

Springfield Baptist Church

Sunday, April 12, Sonrise Service — 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

Sunday, April 12, Worship Service — 10 a.m.

Covington First Baptist Church

Saturday, April 11, Worship Service — 6 p.m.

Sunday, April 12, Worship Services, 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Go to fbccov.org/easter/ and click on the “Watch Live Here” button.

Covington First Methodist Church

Sunday, April 12, Sunrise Service

This is not an online service; however, worshipers can follow this link to find a pdf of the order of service: https://bit.ly/2JVaVZb

The church’s Easter service will be posted to its website, www.covingtonfirst.org, Saturday evening. Click on “Online Presentations” to find the service as well as other Easter and regular services. The services are also posted on the church Facebook page.

More information about online services can be found by visiting individual church websites. A list of churches in Newton County can be found at www.churchfinder.com/churches/ga/covington. Churches in Rockdale County can be found at www.churchfinder.com/churches/ga/conyers. Churches in Butts County can be found at www.churchfinder.com/churches/ga/jackson.

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Editor

I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

(1) comment

baunita

This was a nice article, but it would have been nice to have contacted all the churches in the area - Rockdale and Newton - to find out what services would be offered for Easter.

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