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Local faith leaders preparing for upcoming Holy Week amid pandemic

Local faith leaders preparing for upcoming Holy Week amid pandemic
Posted at 4:37 PM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 19:06:27-04

CLEVELAND — This is an important time of year for many people of different faiths. Passover starts Saturday at sundown and Holy Week for Christians starts Sunday.

But much like last year, the COVID-19 pandemic means churches have to come up with innovative ways to bring their congregations together safely.

At Shiloh Temple House of God in Cleveland, the Holy Week is always something people look forward to.

“Everyone is so so excited,” Steven Best, the Apostle at Shiloh Temple House of God, said.

The Hebrew Pentecostal church commemorates the Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, which typically means gathering for services Friday and Saturday, but not this year.

Friday, the church will be hosting a communion service, but only one person will be allowed to come in and receive communion at a time. Then they will exit through the back of the church.

Saturday, an in-person service will only have limited seating to allow social distancing.

The church also typically hosts a Passover march. Last year, a parishioner suggested turning the march into a car parade, so they’ll be driving through the city streets doing what they can to stay safe and still keep tradition.

“It's paramount for us. This is our faith. This is what we believe. We’re commemorating what our savior has done for us,” Best said.

Best said anyone is welcome to attend the car parade. It starts at noon outside of the church at 1178 E. 79th Street.

Catholic Diocese of Cleveland welcoming parishioners for Easter mass

Sunday is also Palm Sunday, the beginning of the holy week for Christians.

“It's the most sacred time in the life of the church and in our spiritual journey,” Deacon Jim Armstrong Jr., the executive director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, said. “As Christians we are called to find joy at Easter time.”

Unlike last year, Catholic parishioners can attend mass in-person while wearing face masks and staying distanced.

Liturgical celebrations will be held at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist on Superior Avenue in Cleveland throughout the week.

Seating is limited due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

For people who feel uncomfortable going to mass in-person, there are other options.

“Many of the parishes throughout the diocese are continuing to offer their liturgies of Holy Week and Easter via live stream or on demand video,” Armstrong said.

More information about the diocese’s Holy Week liturgies can be found here.

Chagrin Falls church bringing parishioners together in several ways

Fellowship Bible Church in Chagrin Falls is also incorporating screens into their Holy Week activities, taking their drive-in service idea from last year and moving it from outside of their church to the Mayfield Drive-In movie theater in Chardon on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

Both events start at 8:15 p.m., with another service at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday. The film ‘I Can Only Imagine’ will follow the Friday service. Musicians Natalie Grant and Phil Wickham will also perform.

“People can stay in their cars and be as safe as makes sense for them, but still gather as a church,” Matt Clark, the executive pastor of worship and creative media at Fellowship Bible Church, said.

Then, on Easter Sunday, the church will have hybrid services inside that people can either attend in-person or live stream from home.

Clark said having all of these ways to connect is important for their church, especially around this special time of year.

“We believe that as the church — The Big C, community of believers — that His word says don't forsake gathering. Hey, that's cool. If we need to do it in cars, we're doing it in cars,” Clark said. “If we need to do it outside, we'll do it outside.”

More information and registration for Fellowship Bible Church’s Easter drive-in event can be found here.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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