11 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Easter services become 'bubble church' under lockdown

8:13 pm on 11 April 2020

For many churches, celebrating Easter this year will look different, but technology is helping congregations stay connected and even grow.

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Photo: 123RF

Thousands of people across New Zealand will be meeting together from the comfort of home in lockdown and connecting online to mark the most significant date on the Christian calendar.

It will now look like "bubble church," Assemblies of God national secretary Darren Gammie said.

This year most churches would be hosting online prayer meetings, sharing encouragement and devotions and live streaming services through their websites and social media throughout Easter weekend.

"Easter remains the key pivot point for the Christian community. It is the place where we remember that Jesus came to the earth, died for us so that we might live with him," he said.

Senior pastor of Greenlane Church Jonathan Dove said over the last 10 days everyone from their church had been called or checked in.

Although many church leaders would be grieving their original plans, he said moving online to share the 'good news' had lead to an elevation in the level of pastoral care and connection between congregations.

"[At] my church, we are encouraging household bubbles to conduct foot washing, so we don't just have cleans hands now but feet as well ... the way Jesus taught us to serve others and elevate others as more highly than ourselves."

Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand reported a rise in popularity on their Facebook Page in the lead up to Easter, with Rev Fakaofo Kaio's devotionals gaining more than 6000 views.

The country's largest event for Christian youth - Easter camp, which planned to host more than 3000 young people - was cancelled, but for the first time will be hosted online.

Pastor Jonathon said it was the "perfect weekend" for curious people wondering about the Easter message to check out different services online.

"You can jump into an online service and be completely anonymous ... I encourage people to come with an open heart."

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