For a second year in a row, COVID-19 restrictions changed the way most people celebrated Easter Sunday in Alberta.
At the Dow Centennial Centre in Fort Saskatchewan, vehicles filled the parking lot for Sunday service.
“We wanted to find a way again to celebrate Easter… but do so in a way that keeps people safe,” Bridge Church pastor Ryan Pedde said.
Bridge Church did the same thing last year and hundreds of people came.
Congregants listened to the music and the sermon through the radio while staying in their vehicles.
“We built a stage last year and I’m so glad we did because now this is the fourth time we’ve used it, so we’re all pros at the drive-in service now,” Pedde said.
Celebration Church in south Edmonton also offered the drive-in option.
“I have met people driving in that are like, ‘Thank you for this option,’ and they are quite happy to use it,” pastor Dennis Varty said.
With reduced capacity, churchgoers could also attend in-person but had to be masked and stay physically distant.
“Who would’ve thought we would have been doing that this Easter?” Varty mused.
“Last Easter everything was online, so we’re thankful we can do this, but we definitely look forward to change in the future.”
Not every church is following the public health restrictions.
GraceLife Church in Parkland County had another packed parking lot for Sunday service led by pastor James Coates.
RCMP were also on scene again.
It was the second Easter service held by the church in three days and Coates’ third since being released from jail on March 22.
GraceLife has been holding packed services for months, defying Alberta’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Under the public health order, face masks are mandatory and churches are restricted to 15 per cent of fire code capacity.
“Nintey-nine point nine per cent of faith communities are doing their best to be creative and do things like this,” Pedde said.
“Continue to worship and celebrate together, but follow guidelines from AHS.”
He hopes this year’s drive-in service will be the last.
“Years from now we’ll look back and remember the drive-in days, remember the pandemic and how faith is more than gathering together in a building,” Pedde said.