Churches across the NWC get creative to meet Holy Week needs during pandemic

The hush of Holy Week has felt especially poignant this year as churches are figuring out what it means to create community and worship from afar. Across the Northwest Conference, churches are creatively designing services that fit their people and their context. Several our pastors shared what they’re doing this Holy Week:

At Catalyst Covenant in St. Paul, they are integrating art and worship. They are having an artist do three time-lapse videos in their Good Friday service of three paintings. Pastor Jeff Olson is creating three short talks to go with each painting.

Tim Coyer, pastor at Prairieview Covenant in New Richmond, said, “We will do Holy Week Services online; Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. We are putting together Holy Week supply bags that people can either pick up tomorrow or have delivered to their house on Thursday. The bags have communion elements, a candle for our Good Friday service, coloring sheets for the kids, Blazing Center devotionals for our post-Easter series and some candy.”

Faith Covenant (Burnsville) is doing a Tenebrae service for Good Friday. Charlene Rotvold, Family Life Pastor, said, “Six members of our congregation taped a reading and written (by them) reflection on one of the seven last ‘words’ of Jesus. And our children’s and youth directors are taping special devotions for our kids and youth.” For Easter, they’re asking members to send in a video of their family saying, “Happy Easter!” to begin the service.

Living Waters Covenant (Worthington) is doing Holy Week services online: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, a Saturday prayer vigil and Easter. They sent out questions centered on the Easter story asking for responses which they’ll use during worship in a “talk show” format. They’ve also asked people to chalk “He is risen” on their sidewalk/driveway and submit pictures of their families around it.

Pastor Kris Stewart described the format of the Saturday prayer vigil. “We’ve been prerecording our services rather than going live. It will begin with welcome/explanation, people are invited to light a candle/dim the lights and then they’ll be guided through prayers/scripture readings. There will be pauses built in. However, since it is prerecorded, they will be invited to ‘pause’ for longer periods if they so choose. The service will be approximately 15-20 minutes long.”

T.C. Moore, pastor of Roots Covenant (St. Paul), held an online communion service for Maundy Thursday, using bread from a common loaf. He described it, “Osheta [Pastor of Community Life] and I will bake rolls from the same dough, individually wrap them and deliver them to each household on Wednesday.”

HOPE Covenant (Grand Forks) had people pick up communion elements, palm branches and kid packs last weekend for Palm Sunday. They also have daily devotions and a daily worship song. Pastor Paul Knight said that for Good Friday, they’ll have online drama monologues. The Easter service will be online, followed by an all-city (“We hope,” commented Knight) Easter car parade.

Moose Lake Covenant is using several different platforms to communicate with their people Pastor Craig Johnson said that they will be meeting for services via Zoom on Thursday night, a Friday night Tenebrae, and for Sunday school. Their Easter service will be via YouTube.

At Thief River Falls Covenant, Pastor Bert Foster said, “For Maundy Thursday we are doing a prayer and communion service via Zoom. We are doing recorded video services for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.”

At Monticello Covenant, Pastor Jane Spriggs led a Maundy Thursday service via Zoom. She described the service as, “fairly contemplative with music, Bible readings, prayers and communion.” She will be broadcasting Easter Sunday via Facebook Live from her house. She described it as, “Interactive with live prayer requests, greeting and communion in homes.”

This is a sample of all the creative ways our churches are seeking to meet the needs of their churches during this extraordinary Holy Week.