local churches Easter
Photo by Tucker Good

Given the rules for social distancing in place, the faithful are celebrating in new ways.

Easter brings quality-time spent in reflection with friends and family for those of Christian faiths who celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

When Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued a stay-at-home order on March 30, he deemed church an “essential service” if it provides “appropriate physical distancing to the extent feasible.” 

Nevertheless, a group of mayors representing Southern Arizona, including Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, released a PSA Thursday urging families to celebrate Easter and Passover by practicing social distancing.

As such, many churches in Arizona are live streaming services so people can observe Easter on their smart devices. 

Arizona Southern Baptist Convention Executive Director David Johnson told Cronkite News that most churches didn’t need an executive order from the governor to tell them they needed to make changes during a pandemic.

“This is not about trying to limit our religious freedom; it’s about loving our neighbor,” Johnson said. “If Jesus was about anything, it’s sacrifice for our neighbor… that’s what Easter is about.”

The Diocese of Phoenix will televise its mass on Easter Sunday – something it’s done for years.

Pope Francis also delivered his Easter address and blessing from St. Peter’s Basilica through live stream on YouTube at 1:55 a.m. in Arizona; however, the full service is archived and available for viewing. 

Additionally, CatholicTV plans to broadcast and live stream its Easter services from around the world throughout the day Sunday. There will also be services in Spanish. 

A few churches also plan to offer “drive-in worship” Sunday, where people can stay in their cars at least six feet apart during services.

Some churches, like LifePoint Church in San Tan Valley, had planned to move forward with in-person services; however, after a story aired on local media, the church changed course after community feedback.