Pastor: You can -- and should -- celebrate Easter while social distancing

The message from officials and religious leaders across the Tampa Bay area on Good Friday was simple: Please celebrate this Easter Sunday responsibly. 

“As individuals, protect your families, protect those around you, and keep practicing social distancing through the weekend,” said Chuck Henry, Sarasota health officer with the Department of Health. 

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, many churches are planning to hold Easter services online, including Palma Ceia Presbyterian in Tampa.  

Associate pastor Nicole Abdounor says the resurrection of Christ can still be celebrated, even if families do it apart. 

This Spanish Good Friday mass was broadcast live over the internet due to the quarantine decreed in Madrid following the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo by Guilermo Guterrez/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

“Take the time, schedule a Zoom, schedule a Skype. Enjoy families the way we're able to, which are still safe for the larger community,” Abdounor said.  “Our best, most authentic celebrations are going to be to lift up the Easter message from the comfort and safety of our homes.”

RELATED: Tampa megachurch pastor weighs option of opening church doors on Easter

Under an executive order from Governor Ron DeSantis – who asked Floridians to “keep God close but keep COVID-19 away” – churches are legally allowed to hold in-person Sunday services.  However, Adbounor reminded us, worship is not about walking into a specific building. 

“The body of Christ, the community of Christ is not contained to the buildings of the church so we ought not to be afraid,” she added. 

It may be a major shift, but officials say even a holiday weekend isn’t the time to slow the fight against COVID-19. 

”We love each other, we love God.  Our Easter message is to do that at home,” Pastor Abdounor added. 

RELATED: Amidst coronavirus closure, Bok Tower Gardens goes online for Easter sunrise service

FOX 13 will be airing Easter Sunday services from the Cathedral of St. Jude, live at 10 a.m. Sunday.

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

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