Drive-in church anyone? Easter traditions improvised due to COVID-19 pandemic
CALGARY -- With Easter weekend upon us, many churches in the Calgary area have been forced to end decades long traditions and adopt new ways of reaching their parishioners due to COVID-19.
Saint Mary’s Cathedral has been forced to cancel its annual Way of the Cross walk for the first time since 1983 due to COVID-19.
The event, organized by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary, has members of the church carrying a wooden cross in a procession that stops at 14 stations in Calgary’s Beltline. It’s a chance for people to come together and walk, pray, sing and reflect on the past year.
The walk is a re-enactment of Jesus Christs’ journey to crucifixion, which drew over 3,000 in 2019.
That's just one of many events in Calgary that have been cancelled this weekend due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clergy have been forced to plan for major religious holidays that typically involve large community gatherings. Along with Easter and Good Friday, Passover and Ramadan all look different this year under new social distancing rules introduced to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Some churches have started adapting to a digital format to hold mass through Skype, Zoom or other online video platforms, while others are doing things a little differently to reach the masses.
Venue Church in Airdrie will be hosting a Drive-In Easter Service this Sunday.
“We’re going to get a big 20-foot LED wall and pipe it right into the car radio so that we can isolate car to car,” said Pastor Corey Kope.
Kope also said they are doing everything they can to stay true to all social distancing measures.
“We stayed not just close to Alberta Health guidelines, but we really did our best to be directed by them in this whole event and everything that we’re doing.”
The Venue Church services will take place at 8:30, 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 Sunday morning and the location of the event will be released on Saturday. Go to www.venuechurch.ca for more details.
On Thursday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, had a reminder for Albertan’s on planning to attend any drive-in church.
“Only members of the same household should be in a vehicle together,” said Hinshaw. “You should not pick up people from multiple households and sit together at a drive-in service.”
“This virus can too easily spread, for the touch of a serving spoon, a kiss on the cheek, or droplets carried through the breath of someone singing, chanting, or even laughing,” warned Hinshaw.
However, Hinshaw prefers Albertans stay home this weekend, recommending virtual services and egg hunts instead.
"Set up Zoom meetings where people can sing and pray together," Hinshaw said. "Share pictures of your delicious meals and Easter hot cross buns through FaceTime.”
Hinshaw and the Alberta government are asking Albertans to “be physically distant, but virtually connected” and to have a safe and happy holiday long weekend.
With files from Sean Marks