Congregants Worship In-Person Again for Easter Sunday Services

While the first in-person Easter service in a year looks different, church leaders said it's still a breath of fresh spring air

DULUTH, Minn.- Churches and other Christian-centered community groups got together to celebrate Easter Sunday in-person again, after last year’s were pushed online due to pandemic-related shutdowns.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz allowed places of worship to reopen at limited capacity last May, but that was after Easter of 2020.

So for many area congregations, this Easter was the first they’ve been able to come together — and for some individuals the first in-person service they’ve been to in a whole year.

“It is so good to join together in-person again,” said Michael Gatlin, Senior Pastor at the Vineyard Church. “There’s nothing quite like being in person with the other humans again. And so we just want to do that in the safest way that we possibly can.”

At the Vineyard Church on Arrowhead Road the auditorium is packed with congregants, socially distanced.

“We don’t want to put anybody at risk and yet we wanna create a space for just healthy community,” Gatlin said.

While the first in-person Easter service in a year looks different, with individual “to-go” communions and some watching the service in the lobby, church leaders said it’s still a breath of fresh spring air.

“It’s kinda cool with more an more people being vaccinated and still keeping socially distanced and still following all the protocols,” said Gatlin.

“We have people that are coming back really for the first time all year — lots of tears, lots of joy, as people are able to join together in-person again,” the Senior Pastor said.

Meanwhile over in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, another Christian group The Duluth Harbor Mission is continuing their 6-year Easter tradition of giving out hundreds of free Easter dinners to anyone who wants or needs it.

“A lot of people just don’t have families that are close by,” said Christine Koosman, Vice President of the Mission Board.

“It’s Sunday so it’s hard to get to your family and spend time with them so we just thought it’d be really awesome to have a dinner for everybody so they can bring families and if they don’t have them they can still have dinner,” she said.

Last year during the pandemic they ran out of their dinners in the first 20 minutes open.

This year they went through around 120, with 14 home deliveries. They say it fits they spirit of their faith.

“We want people to know that He’s here and our mission is to serve the broken and the homeless and want them to know that we’re here for them and whatever we can do we will do,” said Koosman.

And back at the Vineyard Senior Pastor Michael Gatlin said the rejuvenating service fits the spirit of the day celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“It does feel like a resurrection in many different ways and so thankfully that we do get to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this year — all together,” he said.

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