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A new kind of Easter: Churches might be empty, but people are still celebrating

Lakelands churches will be empty today.

Then again, it was an empty tomb more than 2,000 years ago that eventually led to the celebration of Easter.

For Christians, that empty tomb symbolizes that their savior, Jesus, lives and arose from the dead after being crucified.

Even though the new coronavirus and its accompanying social-distancing mandates have shuttered church doors indefinitely, the spirit of Easter lives on for believers.

The marquee outside Trinity United Methodist Church in Greenwood says, “Church can happen anywhere.”

On Saturday, Dennis Moore, a member of Main Street United Methodist Church, was carefully decorating the cross outside with an assortment of colorful flowers.

“Just trying to keep a bit of normalcy in this crazy world we have today,” Moore said.

The tree might otherwise have gone undecorated this year if not for Moore.

“Normally, every year, people in the church bring things out of their yard to contribute to this,” he said. “Since we’re not supposed to be out this time of the year, during this coronavirus, I told them I would do this. I am doing it with a lot of artificial stuff so, if people want to come out during the week and take a picture with it. It will be pretty.”

Moore said the church has been decorating the cross for 20 or 30 years.

“Several of the members have posted pictures with themselves with it on Facebook,” he said. “So, I just said I would go up there and do it.”

And the empty church won’t deter Moore.

“The building is not the church,” he said. “It’s the people who are the church, and, of course, we’re going to be doing everything online.”

Some people have gone further than traditional Easter decorations. They have been doing chalk drawings, such as the one in front of the flowery cross outside Rock Presbyterian Church. Others are decorating the front glass doors of their homes with acrylic cross paintings.

Jennifer Medlin, of Ware Shoals, said one of her friends painted a door and posted a picture on Facebook, so she wanted to do the same.

“What better way to show our love for Jesus on Easter,” Medlin said. “We cannot go on egg hunts at the church or with a group, so we also got eggs to put on our house so parents can take their kids on a virtual egg hunt in our town.”

The idea came from her pastor at Mt. Gallagher Baptist Church, and the hunt is conducted on Facebook Live. Medlin said she saw that other churches were also doing it.

Also on Saturday, some people were doing live Easter egg hunts a day ahead of today’s possible inclement weather.

The parents of Jack and Hadley Kirkland watched as the kids looked through their respective baskets and compared the treats they found inside the plastic eggs. Mom Townsend Kirkland said they were doing the hunts in “shifts,” with more family expected later. Husband C.K. said they were practicing social distancing during the hunts.

Townsend held her 4-week-old girl while staying a safe distance from everyone. C.K. said “this is the new normal. We brought a newborn home a couple of weeks ago, and the grandparents have barely seen her. We’ve just been limiting contact.”

Contact staff writer Greg K. Deal at 864-943-5647 or follow on Twitter @IJDEAL.

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