Easter services scaled down due to shutdown

·2 min read
Churches such as Parkwood Gospel Church must not exceed 15 per cent capacity at Easter services this Sunday. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)
Churches such as Parkwood Gospel Church must not exceed 15 per cent capacity at Easter services this Sunday. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)

Churches in Windsor Essex will have to limit capacity to 15 per cent for Easter services this weekend due to the provincial shutdown imposed Thursday. That means that for the second year in a row, services will be scaled back.

Some in-person services will go ahead, within the new capacity limits.

"We are able to accommodate, in most cases, close to what we would have on any normal Sunday. It's much better than last Easter, when we were completely shut down," said Matthew Clarke, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of London.

Clarke said each parish will have to work out how to accommodate the parishioners.

"In most cases, we found with physical distance seating, even with 30 per cent capacity, the number comes up at closer to 15 per cent," said Clarke, adding some parishioners may be asked to volunteer to participate via live stream.

Some services will proceed with the new measures, while others will offer online services only.
Some services will proceed with the new measures, while others will offer online services only.(Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Some churches, like Riverside United Church, will only be offering online, pre-taped services only. The church's minister Rev. Frank Staples said the congregates will be able to take part in communion at home during the online Easter service.

But Clarke said in the Catholic faith that's not allowed. Clarke said priests will only administer communion in person. Parishioners will be physically distanced.

He explained that the priest, wearing a mask, will sanitize his hands, drop bread into the hands of parishioners when they step forward, they will move to the side, remove their mask and eat the bread. Only the priest will drink the wine.

"It's good that even with the 15 per cent ceiling we'll still be able to gather as a community, and the communities in all the different faith communities in the Windsor area can come together, take part in the Eucharist, even if it is with limited numbers," said Clarke.

The pastor at Harvest Bible Church would not comment on how they plan to celebrate Easter, but said they can operate at 15 per cent capacity. Pastor Aaron Rock has defied COVID-19 restrictions in the past.

A spokesperson for Parkwood Gospel Church said they will still be offering in-person services, while following the new rules.

Meanwhile, the president of Congregation Beth El said the restrictions don't make any difference to the synagogue which has been shut down for a year except for special events. Passover ends this weekend as well.