Churches, charities change Easter celebrations amid coronavirus pandemic

Churches across the country are preparing for an Easter unlike any other with many houses of worship preparing to stream virtual services online Easter Sunday.

For the first time ever, the pews inside Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church will be empty on Easter Sunday.

"It's hard not to be with the people you are accustomed to gathering with as a community of faith much like it’s hard for family systems to not be together so we're feeling that tension," Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church Associate Pastor Nicole Abdnour said.

It's why Abdnour is going virtual this Easter Sunday like so many others across the county.

"As our nation battles the invisible enemy we believe in the power of prayer," President Trump said in a taped address from the Oval Office Friday.

Friday, Abdnour and other church members helped prepare and shoot Pastor John DeBevoise's sermon set to air Sunday on their social media pages.

"God is faithful and present still and I think that's the Easter message and we're being called to live that out in a very different way this year," Abdnour said.

Not only churches, but local charities are also making changes to their Easter activities

"It's going to be a really different Easter, but we are excited to make it a fun and wonderful celebration," Metro Ministries Chief Programs Officer Christine Long said.

Friday, volunteers with Metro Ministries cooked and prepared food, making up to 1,500 "to-go style" meals. They're also prepared more than 300 Easter baskets for kids and set up a walkthrough Easter egg hunt.

"As the families come down, they'll pick up their wonderful Easter meal and then they'll walk on through to pick up Easter baskets for their kids so I know it's going to be a fun and exciting time this Easter," Long said.

Anyone who wants to pick up one of the 1,500 to-go style meals from Metro Ministries may do so at the following times and locations:

First Presbyterian Church; 412 Zack St.; 9 – 10 a.m. 
Relevant Church; 1705 N. 16th Street; 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. 
Faith Café; 1340 Clearview Ave.; 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Hyde Park United Methodist Church; 500 W. Platt St.; 8 – 9:15 a.m. 
Faith Café; 1340 Clearview Ave.; 5 – 6 p.m.  

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


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