Even though Alaskans have been mandated to avoid gathering in groups and to practice social distancing, local churches will still be celebrating Good Friday and Easter Sunday thanks to the power of the internet.
“It was from death that our savior rose, so we need to remember in this time of darkness that this is not the end,” Karen Martin-Tichenor, pastor of Soldotna United Methodist Church, said on Thursday.
A health mandate issued by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on March 27 prohibits private and public gatherings of any number of people. The mandate specifically prohibits gatherings for weddings, faith, graduation ceremonies and funeral events. Last Tuesday, Alaska’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, issued a health alert clarifying that churches are allowed to continue their services virtually or through a drive-in method, but virtual services must be produced by 10 or fewer people and anyone singing or projecting their voice should stay at least 10 feet away from the nearest person.
Here is what some of the local churches in the area are planning on celebrating Easter Weekend while respecting the health mandates issued by the governor.
Soldotna United Methodist Church
A 10 a.m. worship will be broadcast on the Soldotna United Methodist Facebook page, featuring a sermon from the Bishop of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Kenai United Methodist and North Star United Methodist Church
Pastor April Hall will be streaming a Good Friday service live at 7 p.m. on the North Star United Methodist Facebook page for both congregations.
On Easter Sunday, Hall will hold a 10 a.m. service that will be streamed live on the Kenai United Methodist Facebook page. Hall said the service will feature about 30-45 minutes of hymns, a call to worship, prayer and communion.
At 11 a.m. on Sunday, Hall will broadcast a pre-recorded sermon from the Bishop of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church, also on the Kenai United Methodist Facebook page.
Hall said that she is delivering communion materials — bread and juice — to all of her congregation so that they can participate in communion on Sunday through Zoom and Facebook live.
First Baptist Church of Kenai
Secretary Kassy Bittle said that First Baptist Church of Kenai will be hosting a drive-in sunrise service at 7 a.m. on Sunday in the church parking lot. Everyone is asked to stay in their vehicles in order to respect state health mandates, and parking spaces will be arranged to maintain 6 feet of distance between each vehicle. Bathrooms will not be available for use.
The service can also be heard live on the church’s Facebook page.
Kenai New Life Assembly of God
Rev. Stephen Brown said that his church would be joining the Governor’s Day of Prayer event for Good Friday at 2 p.m. Dunleavy will be hosting a livestream event on his Facebook page where he will offer a personal prayer for Alaska and ask for a moment of silence as he is joined remotely by churches around the state.
Later that evening at 6 p.m., Kenai New Life will stream a Good Friday Service on their own Facebook page and will celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Brown said that people are encouraged to participate at home.
On Sunday at 10:30 a.m., Kenai New Life will host a live Easter Worship service on their Facebook page. Brown said that all offerings collecting during the Easter service will go to erasing the school lunch debt for students in the Kenai Peninsula School District, which he said stands at about $10,000.
That afternoon, Brown said, the church is offering a drive-thru, allowing members to receive a copy of the book “How Good is Good Enough?” by Andy Stanley and a bag of treats for the kids. Brown said that all the gifts have been prepared in accordance with the state mandates.
All services are also available on the church’s website, www.kenainewlife.org.
Roots Family Church in Soldotna
Pastor Frank Alioto said that a prerecorded sermon on the Resurrection of Jesus along with a set of worship songs recorded by church members will be posted on the church’s Facebook page on Easter Sunday, with a collective watch party taking place at 10:30 a.m.
The church’s Facebook page also features a daily video devotion from different church members. Alioto said that the online services have been shorter than normal in order to allow for more time for families to interact.
“Our church has felt encouraged with the daily devotions from each other,” Alioto said on Thursday. “And our saying has been with all that is going on, we are scattered, but not shattered.”
Sterling Pentecostal Church
Pastor Mitchell Glover said that Sterling Pentecostal Church will have two events on Easter Sunday, both broadcast live on their Facebook page. At 10 a.m. Glover will hold a Bible lesson, and a worship service will be held at 11 a.m.
“We hope everyone can join in to worship Jesus Christ who overcame a dark time, despair, and death by divine power,” Glover said on Thursday.
Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna
Pastor Meredith Harber said that her church would be holding a Good Friday service at 7 p.m. on Facebook live as well as an Easter Sunday service at 11 a.m. A home blessing in celebration of Maundy Thursday is also available on the church’s Facebook page.
Lighthouse Community Church
Pastor Dan Smouse said that Lighthouse would be holding a Good Friday Service at 7 p.m. on Facebook live and an Easter Sunday Service at 10 a.m. Lighthouse will also have a drive-up service at the church at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Funny River Community Lutheran Church
Rev. Andrew Carlson said that his church would be recording their Easter Sunday service at 11 a.m. on Facebook, YouTube and the church’s website, www.funnyriverlutheran.org. There will also be a Good Friday service at 6 p.m.
“We pray for a quick end to this novel coronavirus outbreak and the opportunity to worship again together,” Carlson said on Thursday.