Richmond-area churches are bracing for a big return Easter Sunday

Richmond-area churches are bracing for a big return Easter Sunday
Faith leaders say their flocks are coming back in droves along with vaccine shots in arms. (Source: Catholic Diocese of Richmond)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond-area churches are bracing for a big return Easter Sunday. Pastors say their flocks are coming back in droves along with vaccine shots in arms.

“There’s going to be a lot of members who are using Easter Sunday for the very first time to return back after their vaccinations,” said Ben Gutierrez, Senior Pastor Grove Ave. Baptist Church.

One year ago, churches were all but completely shuttered due to COVID-19 pandemic safety restrictions.

At Grove Ave. Baptist Church in Henrico County, that meant last year’s Easter Sunday service was all virtual with only nine staff members inside the building. This year, they are preparing two services, and expect about 600 people to cross the campus.

“We’ve been practicing, practicing, practicing, preparing, rehearsing and fine tuning,” said Gutierrez.

Most churches are holding some form of hybrid worship service.

“We are seeing the atmosphere is being to shift a little bit if you will,” said Cliff Jordan, Lead Pastor, Movement Church.

Churches are allowed to operate at 50% capacity with masks and social distancing requirements.

“This is an exciting time for our congregation,” said Bill Pike, Trinity United Methodist Church. “There’s a lot of planning and preparation has gone into that.”

The holiday commemorates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

For a lot of churches NBC12 spoke with, it’s taken months of planning to get to this point. And most see Easter Sunday as a turning point in people willing to worship in-person.

“This has been a very tough year. You know we’re not prepared for pandemics in seminary or any training that I have very received up to this point,” said Jordan.

A lot of churches do require an RSVP, especially for Easter Sunday services.

Grove Ave. Baptist Church says it’s had about 15,000 through the door since restrictions lifted, and say not a single COVID-19 case is tied to them.

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