By Katie Steiner

WOODBURY (WCCO) — Since the outbreak of COVID-19, churches have gotten creative trying to bring their services and sacraments to the faithful at the time the public cannot come to them.

St. Ambrose in Woodbury is celebrating mass in a different way, with a parking lot Sunrise Easter Mass. Pastor Peter Williams said that in these strange times, the Church has had to adapt.

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“What I’ve found is a creativity burst forth. We can’t go left, we can’t go right. And so this is what we are going to try to do,” Williams said.

A parking lot mass is just one of the things the parish has been doing. Streaming masses, hosting drive-thru confession and hosting mass in the parking lot amid the falling snow are a couple of ways the church has continued its ministry.

“There’s something about being assembled, being together being able to look to your right and left, behind you and before you and to see other believers. I can’t put a value on that. It was powerful. There’s a felt sense of solidarity, a felt sense of being in something that is bigger than us, and that’s something we are grateful for,” Williams said.

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The sunrise mass started at 6:30 a.m. Easter morning, and featured Williams in a beanie and gloves, three singers, a flutist, and a piano player outside in the freezing cold and snow, saying Mass to the hundreds of parishioners watching in their cars.

“How could you ever think of an Easter being like this?” exclaimed one of the singers, David Fischer. “I think coming back to be in person with everyone, everyone was in their cars, but to be out here, I was singing for the mass and it was freezing, but everyone kept me warm. Honestly, looking out and seeing everyone, it was something very special to be a part of.”

For Fischer and his family, this mass was so much more than just a parking lot gathering.

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“We are connected, not just physically but spiritually. There’s something very powerful and tangible about celebrating this season of the year, during this time of crisis, and knowing that so many people are pouring out their prayers and support and love for one another,” Fisher said.

Katie Steiner