GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Many families across South Mississippi entered a place of worship on Easter Sunday for the first time since the pandemic began.
“Good morning, so good to see y’all,” said one of the door greeters at First Baptist Church in Gulfport.
A warm welcome many believers haven’t heard in a while.
Executive Pastor of ministries Eric Smith said last Easter something unheard of happened, affecting the world of Christians, causing them not to meet for worship.
COVID-19 was the cause of that and many churches decided to close their doors. Although churches like First Baptist in Gulfport welcomed members back months ago, some people just returned on Easter Sunday.
“There’s been fear and isolation so what a great time to come together to begin to overcome some of those setbacks,” said Pastor Smith
Following CDC and state guidelines, you can see chairs have been spaced out to help with social distancing and pastor Eric Smith said an additional service was also added.
Along the beach, music and songs filled the atmosphere as some churches hosted a sunrise service. Mississippi City United Methodist works to bring in Easter Sunday at sunrise each year, especially after a year of uncertainty.
“Last Easter we did not gather it would’ve been irresponsible at the time but we felt like with the vaccination rates and masking we could safely gather this Sunday and celebrate our risen savior,” said Pastor Megan Becnel.
To get members in the spirit leading up to Easter Sunday, First Baptist launched “Cross the Coast” encouraging its congregates to stage crosses in their front yard. The church said its mission was to amplify hope across the Coast by connecting people to the life of Jesus.
Pastor Smith said coming together he hopes everyone will understand the true meaning of this day.
“I think the thing we would like to take away is the fact that God loves them and he loves them so much he sent his son for them,” said Pastor Smith.
Some churches took advent. Some churches also took advantage of the beautiful weather. For instance, First Baptist in Orange Grove hosted an Easter Egg hunt after its service.