Easter Sunday could derail fight against COVID-19; Governors make plea to churches

Mid-South pastors preach social distancing ahead of Easter Sunday

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Easter Sunday at Brown Missionary Baptist Church in Southaven is traditionally an elaborate production. This year’s celebration was scheduled to be just as big.

“So our team has been planning since last year, but of course everything changed with COVID-19,” said Senior Pastor Bartholomew Orr.

Gov. Bill Lee signs order requiring Tennesseans to stay home

Brown Missionary Baptist Church has now closed its doors to try to slow down the spread of the virus. While the crowds will be gone Sunday, Pastor Orr and his team are getting creative.

“We are trying to expand the virtual experience, so in terms of a choir, we will have a virtual choir this Easter. It’s a pretty neat thing where our choir members will be singing via Zoom,” said Orr.

Orr will also be showing pre-recorded Easter speeches sent in from the children instead of the Easter Bash the church usually has on the Saturday before Easter.

It’s a new way of worship in the midst of a crisis.

“These holidays we’re going to have to postpone it. Having grandchildren around grandparents is a poor idea right now,” said infectious disease physician Dr. Stephen Threlkeld with Baptist Memorial Hospital.

Coronavirus Q&A with Dr. Steve Threlkeld April 7

Threlkeld says 40 to 50 Jewish physicians in town crafted a letter to the Jewish community asking them to not gather for seder.

Seder is a Jewish ceremonial dinner for Passover.

Pastor Steve Gaines of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova says Tuesday Governor Bill Lee held a conference call with pastors across to state.

“I think what he’s trying to say is lets come together and please, please comply with what we ask you to do,” said Gaines.

Gaines says on Easter he typically has anywhere from 13,000 to 14,000 in attendance.

Pastor Gaines says his church will conduct their Easter services online just like they’ve been doing for the past few weeks.

“If we make a poor decision, then we’re responsible for those people that come and if someone comes with a coronavirus and spread it to someone else than we would be responsible for that,” said Gaines.

Both Gaines and Orr say they will be preaching live online Sunday, but they will not invite the public inside.

Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.