It’s been sometime since I last posted, but I’m going to be posting articles regularly now. The last month has been a blur. Trip to England and Africa was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic. Clearly Holy Week is going to be radically different this year.
With “hunker-down” and “social distancing” in place, most Christians will have a radically different experience with Easter this year. Please feel free to share your experience in your comments to this post.
I’ve been experiencing a house church for some time. It is one of several affiliated with Great Land Christian Church. Their model is to worship in house churches every Sunday except one. The exception is when the entire church meets as a congregation at the Boys & Girls Club facility. The congregate meetings, of course, have been discontinued during the pandemic. However, I’ve attended congregate GLCC meetings and find them to be a joy. My longtime friend Pastor Ray Nadon has filled me in on why they switched to this model. I’ll be doing an indepth post on them shortly. I’ve enjoyed worshipping with the Paredes house church for a number of Sundays. They are now meeting via Zoom. The majority of their time is spent discussing the assigned scripture readings. After my return from Africa, they focused on Matthew 23-24, and the following week Matthew 25-26. It is a very personable way to study, pray, and assemble as Christians together. If you would like to join their Easter service, click on this link to obtain a Zoom meeting invitation. (https://www.glccalaska.org/)
Many churches have transitioned to having their services via some type of social media or internet meeting sites such as Zoom or Skype. I’ve talked with several local pastors this week and they shared the following information about their services this weekend. This list is not exhaustive but representative. I suggest looking at church websites for specifics for onlne worship.
Anchorage First Presbyterian Church – Pastor Matt Schulz (http://firstpresanchorage.org/)
Pastor Matt shared “I have been live streaming on my facebook page and the church facebook page since this began. I will do so this week as well for Good Friday. Sunday will be Easter of course, but livestream only, probably from my home.” Livestream link: https://www.facebook.com/First-Presbyterian-Church-of-Anchorage-Alaska-152768168262144/
All Saints Episcopal CHurch – Rev. David Terwilliger
Rev David shares, “As far as our Holy Week/Easter schedule, we have reduced many of our usual worship activities but certainly not all. As things stand, I have been posting videos of our services on our church website – linked from a church YouTube account. (http://allsaintsalaska.org/youtube-services)
“Fortunately, I have my household to assist me with the services – usually my wife as Lector and my daughters will Acolyte for us Easter morning. It certainly seems strange to us to conduct a service to be viewed by our church family online – many I know are able to watch and listen. Sadly, some, I am sure, cannot. Nevertheless, I have had folks tell me that they find great comfort in knowing that the Eucharist is still being celebrated within our church sanctuary even if they cannot be here physically to participate. We are relying on a teaching of the church that “spiritual communion” is available to those whose desired intention is to participate in the Eucharist but for reasons – not their fault – cannot be physically present. In this, the sacramental benefits of Christ’s sacrifice are apprehended by faith. This teaching has been around for a long time and is even provided for in the 1662 BCP rubrics as well. So we are relying of Christ’s presence and our Church’s tradition to guide us during these days. Additionally, the old Armed Forces Prayer Book offers guidance for Spiritual Communion and a wonderful prayer found here: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1928/AFPB_Spir_Communion.htm
St Mary’s Episcopal Church – Rev. Michael Burke
Rev. Michael says they will be using Zoom for the Easter service at 10:00 a.m. with Twitch and Facebook mirroring the service. The Zoom link is (https://zoom.us/j/362945215) or go to the church webpage noted above for a link. The bulletin is also availabe there. Pastor Michael also shares, “People are joining us online from around the world and throughout the lower 48.Much joy despite the crushing busyness.”
St. Patrick’s Parish – Fr. Leo Walsh
“We are pretty much shut down” say St. Patricks Pastor Fr. Leo Walsh.”I have been live streaming mass is at noon daily, and on the weekends on our Facebook page. Due to the governors mandate, it is impossible to celebrate the Triduum liturgies if there is only one person who lives in the household, such as myself. The Triduum liturgies for the Archdiocese will be celebrated and streamed from Holy Family Cathedral (English) and Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral (bi-lingual in English and Spanish).Mass of the Lord’s Supper, 7 PM on Holy Thursday; Good Friday Liturgy at 7 PM, Easter Vigil on Saturday at 8 PM. Details are on the archdiocesan website.” (https://www.archdioceseofanchorage.org/)
Fr Leo says he “will be streaming Easter Sunday Mass from Saint Patrick’s at 10 AM Easter Sunday morning.” See Facebook link above.
St. John UMC – Pastor Andy Bartel
They will be streaming Good Friday services at 7 p.m. today. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC157rFbLUFLjOH9XvQTjCIQ)
Easter Sunday services will also be livestreamed at 9:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. as well.
This is a friendly church with a top-notch pastoral staff.
Wherever you worship this Easter weekend, may God’s richest blessing be with you as you celebrate His richest gift to a needy world.