Churches Find New Ways to Observe Holy Week

Trinity Covenant Church in Manchester, Conn., has set up a drive-thru stations of the cross.

CHICAGO (April 3, 2020) – Covenant churches are coming up with creative ways to celebrate Holy Week as they practice social distancing. We asked churches to share their plans.

Trinity Covenant Church in Manchester, Conn., will offer a drive-thru Stations of the Cross focused on the final seven expressions of Christ from April 5 through Easter. Each station will include art, prayer, and experiential engagements. The church also created a soundtrack to guide participants. https://trinitycovenantchurch.org/2020/04/7-words-experience/

Alaska Covenant churches are sharing an ecumenical service on KICY radio. Each church will provide a brief devotion and a song that is meaningful for their congregation. The radio station plans to combine them into one service that they broadcast live on Easter.

Bethel (Alaska) Covenant Church will join with local Christian radio station KYKD and the Bethel Moravian Church to offer a “social distancing” prayer walk on Palm Sunday. Grouped by households and walking six feet apart, participants will walk waving palms the half mile to the community center and back. Along the way, they are encouraged to pray, sing, read Scripture, or shout “Hosanna!”

On Easter, the church will participate in the KICY service with other Alaska Covenant churches. They will also offer a drive-in worship service with KYKD and the Moravian church. During the service, only one person will be onstage at a time. Congregants will remain in their vehicles and listen to the service as it is broadcast by the radio station.

Bethany Covenant Church in Lyndhurst, Ohio, will have palm fronds available for people to pick up outside the church to wave at home during their online Palm Sunday service. They will also offer guidance for how families can hold an at-home Maundy Thursday service, a Tenebrae service on Good Friday via Zoom, and an Easter service via Zoom that will include a coloring page made by an artist in the church for people to color and put in their windows.

Forest Hills Covenant Church in Boston will deliver palms to people’s homes for Palm Sunday. They will also post video prayer stations for use Maundy Thursday through Saturday and hold their Easter service via Zoom.

Covenant Community Church in Fairfield, Ohio, will host a “virtual Narthex” gathering on Zoom after streaming a worship service on Palm Sunday. A pre-recorded Tenebrae service will be posted on Good Friday, including videos teenagers made of themselves at home reading Scripture. The video also will include pastors performing music and lighting candles.

Immanuel Evangelical Covenant Church in Chicago will livestream a lectio divina service on Maundy Thursday. For Good Friday, the church has sent out packets families can use at home, including coloring pages. The church will hold a coffee hour via Zoom on Easter.

St. Thomas Covenant Church in Salem, Ore., has posted a virtual labyrinth for Maundy Thursday and a do-it-yourself Tenebrae service for Good Friday. Materials and videos are posted online. The church will hold Palm Sunday and Easter services via Zoom. www.stthomascov.com/holyweek

Buffalo (Minn.) Covenant Church will hold a contemplative worship Maundy Thursday service via Zoom, led by three people in three locations doing music, readings, and reflections. The Easter service will be posted on Facebook Live and will include interactive experiences.

Trinity Covenant Church in Livingston, N.J., will hold all services via Zoom. Members will design and make paper flags for the kingdom of God to wave on Palm Sunday. The church will have a dinner and communion on Maundy Thursday, an abridged Tenebrae service, and full Easter service.

Living Stones Christian Church East Bay in Union City, Calif., will post brief devotional videos by pastor Brian Hui on Facebook. Online guided contemplative prayer connected with the Passion narratives will be posted each day. On Good Friday a brief service will include a children’s story, a reflection on art connected with the Passion, and communion. The online Easter service will include a video compilation of children answering questions about Easter and communion.

Lakebay (Wash.) Covenant Church will hold a Palm Sunday service via Zoom and streamed to YouTube. Members will wave palm or fern branches. A Maundy Thursday Service with readings, links to YouTube music videos, and other activities will be uploaded to the church website. The Good Friday service will be held via Zoom and streamed through YouTube. Members in different locations will read Scripture. An Easter sunrise reflection will be posted on YouTube. The Easter celebration will include a video compiled from videos of other community pastors reading Scripture or sharing a blessing.

First Covenant Church in Lincoln, Neb., has put together a “Holy Week in a Bag” that includes ideas pulled from Pinterest of small crafts for each day from Palm Sunday through Easter.  They are geared for children ages three through eight. Drivers will deliver palms and a bag before the Facebook Live service on Easter.

Audubon Park Covenant Church in Orlando, Fla., will have social distancing Stations of the Cross alongside the church sidewalk. The stations will include videos of creative storytelling or hymns and songs that people can link to via QR codes. The stations will be posted throughout Holy Week and be switched out for different stations on Easter.

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About the Author

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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