Holy Week started with the Palm Sunday celebration of Jesus’ triumphant arrival to Jerusalem, continued through the observance of The Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, the bleak crosswalks that reminded Christians of the death of Jesus and finally the celebration of the Resurrection on Sunday.
Churches responded to each part of the last days of Jesus’ life on earth with a variety of services — some in person and many on a variety of social media platforms.
Masks and social distancing were a part of the Easter 2021 experience, as it was in 2020 when most services were held on social media or in parking lots.
On Thursday evening, Mount Carmel Church hosted a Maundy Thursday mass that included multiple priests and lay leaders bringing attention to The Last Supper through music and the spoken word.
Four different crosswalks were held on Friday as Christians gathered in Ashtabula, Orwell, Andover and Jefferson. Large crosses were carried by Christians seeking to remember Christ’s walk carrying the cross more than 2,000 years ago.
Pastors and lay leaders read scripture along the walks and in Orwell’s Chaffee Park, a worship service was held with more than 70 people in attendance.
A small group from First Baptist Church in Ashtabula gathered Friday morning and walked the streets of Ashtabula. Andover area Christians also took turns carrying a large wooden cross and a large contingent of people gathered in Jefferson and had a police escort to complete the ceremonial crosswalk.
On Sunday morning an ecumenical sunrise service was held with worshipers listening to the service on their car radios and watching leaders read scripture from the back steps of First Baptist Church in Ashtabula.
Many churches are still operating predominantly with an online presence, but pastors are reporting increased attendance at in-person services as more people receive their vaccinations.
First Covenant Church in Ashtabula, along with many local congregations, celebrated Easter morning with in-person worship and a Zoom meeting option for those uncomfortable leaving their homes and getting together with people at this time.
Jim Pildner, of First Covenant Church, said Easter worship means celebrating the Resurrection of Christ and the sacrifice of his death on a cross. He said the social media worship experience has been good, but the in-person version is more beautiful.
There were lots of cars at area churches including St. Joseph Church and Mothers of Sorrows Church, both part of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Ashtabula, on Sunday morning.
Masks marked the worship experience at Mother of Sorrows Church, but a large crowd attended while social distancing from neighboring worshipers.
Father John Mulqueen, a retired priest who came to lead the Sunday morning mass, focused worshipers on what Easter means to the individual Christian.
“Oh God on this day through the giving of your only begotten son you have conquered death,” he said.