MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a situation few could imagine. Churches all over the world will be closed on Easter Sunday.

But WCCO found out Christian leaders across the Twin Cities say this could actually be a blessing in disguise.

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Archbishop Hebda is still getting his mind around the fact that churches are closed. He sat down with WCCO.

“I was the only person in the pews, it was my opportunity to sing and I heard and only hearing one voice in the cathedral, that really made it real that these are different times. But Easter will go on. Easter has to go on.”

Because of COVID-19, the denomination most steeped in tradition is trying something new; Facebook mass and streaming homilies. Hebda says, “I am hoping maybe even for the first time, people will hear the Christian message, maybe for the first time and see some grounds for believing, hoping and going out and doing great things.”

And at the New Hope Baptist Church in St. Paul, creativity is flowing, too. Reverend Runney D. Patterson tells WCCO, “We did what we call park and praise and had service out in the parking lot.”

Reverend Patterson has been holding Wednesday and Saturday night Bible Studies online and drawing viewers from around the country, and his streaming services have hundreds more than in-person gathering. He says, “What the devil meant for evil, God meant it for good and so this is a grand opportunity for us to share the message of Jesus Christ. And to put the positive message out there that we do have good people in our community.”

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It’s a message that’s being echoed in Golden Valley at Calvary Lutheran. Josh Hoaby leads music at the church, “Everybody thought this was gonna be a downer thing but its been really, really great.”

Hoaby created an iPhone choir and he’s doing mid-week concerts from his living room, “It’s been fun to look out and see different ways we can impact our community in this really, really difficult and weird time.”

The pastor of Calvary, Zach Thompson confirms it’s catching on, doubling their audience, “We have been connecting with thousands more people than we are used to and I think the potential on Easter is that we could have a bigger crowd than we’ve ever had and we will be able to share the hope that we have with more people than ever before.”

It seems the cancellation of church has led to a resurrection of faith. Thompson says, “People are looking for meaning, they are looking for purpose, they are looking just to ask questions.”

The Vatican will also be holding a virtual mass on Easter.

Click here for for more information about plans with the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, New Hope Baptist Church, and Calvary Lutheran Church.

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The Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul also shared the following information with WCCO:

  • Archbishop Hebda will celebrate Mass Thursday and Friday nights at 7:00, and 8:30pm Saturday at the Cathedral of Saint Paul.
  • Archbishop Hebda will celebrate Easter Sunday Mass from the Basilica of Saint Mary at 9:30 a.m. Following Mass, he will step outside and bless the city of Minneapolis around 10:45 a.m.
  • Archbishop Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens will be blessing families (while the families remain in their cars) who drive up to the Cathedral on the Selby Avenue side from 2-4 p.m. on Easter Sunday. It’s a tradition Archbishop Hebda participated in as a child while growing up in Pittsburgh (although they didn’t have to stay in their cars).
  • There’s a grassroots effort coming out of Red Wing, MN (at the very SE corner of the Archdiocese) that’s encouraging Christian churches to ring their bells at 10:00 on Easter Sunday morning.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield