Religious communities adjust Easter, Passover services due to COVID-19

MARYSVILLE, Wash. - Coronavirus is changing how people around the world are practicing their faith. This is an especially important weekend for some religions and their congregations.

Passover is April 8-16 for the Jewish faith. Those who believe in the Christian faith are worshiping on Good Friday. Easter Sunday is considered to be the most important day of Christianity.

Congregations are finding ways to serve their communities on these dedicated days while maintaining social distance to reduce exposure to COVID-19.

Pastor Bryan Rees, of Rockcreek Church in Marysville, said people don’t need brick and mortar to have church.

“The church is not a building, the church is of people who belong to the family of God,” said Rees.

With studio software controlling nine cameras on one iPad, Rees was prepared to give his virtual Easter Sunday sermon.

“It’s kind of the Superbowl for church weekends,” said Rees.

Every seat at his church would be filled for the sacred Sunday, but it remains closed as the congregation is practicing Washington’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Instead of worshiping onsite, Rockcreek is going online.

“We’re really trying to make sure people feel more connected even as we’re physically not in the same building,” said Rees.

The Archdiocese of Seattle said more than 100 parishes will live stream Mass. In Everett, Jubilee Church of God in Christ will have Easter service drive-bys.

Rees said in these trying times, it’s not about where people worship, but what they believe.

“Find a moment, find a thing, find an opportunity to be thankful for what we currently have--when often in life we focus on what we don’t have,” said Rees.

Rockcreek canceled its annual egg hunt. Not to waste materials, the congregation donated 5,000 eggs filled with candy were donated to those on the front lines of the outbreak at Providence Regional Medical Center in Snohomish County.

“Very touched by the fact that folks even want to ease the way of our caregivers and bringing a little joy to their lives when everyone is here working pretty darn hard,” said Kim Williams, CEO of Providence.

Williams said they have seen tremendous generosity and support from the community.

“People are really stepping in to help us as we do really challenging work,” said Williams.

Anyone who would like to donate to Providence is encouraged to learn more on its website.