PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Bay Area churches are gearing up for an Easter like no other. Last year, many churches were forced to cancel Easter services due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but this year, many are holding unique celebrations.

The key to having an Easter service this year is making sure safety precautions are in place such as enough space to social distance. This is why Feather Sound Church rented out a large patio to make sure everyone can stay six feet apart.

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Art Dykstra, Pastor at Feather Sound Church says “Last year was a challenge and there are many things we don’t have a playbook for.”

Jessica Shonebarger, Ministries Director at Elevated Church says last year, “We had huge block parties, petting zoos, everything planned and paid for, and it just had to change super quick.” For many church leaders in the Tampa Bay Area, 2020 was a year of online church services and empty pews. She adds, “Not being able to get together and taking for granted all the times we could get together before and then the sudden stop. It was really difficult.”

Last Easter, Sunday service was held on a computer screen for both Feather Sound and Elevated Churches.

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“We live-streamed it over Facebook and live-streamed it on our website,” said Dykstra. But this year, he says his church will have its sunrise service on a spacious patio at Feather Sound Country Club, followed by two more services at the Mahaffey Theater. He adds, “There’s considerable social distancing, masks are required, but to take the capacity, what they’ve also allowed us to do is the area in front of the Dali Museum, we’ve rented a huge led screen. Massive. And we have room for at least 600 people.”

Shonebarger says Elevated Church will be offering two services Easter Sunday, including an Easter egg hunt. “Our rows spread apart eight feet and we do have masks available for anyone that wants to wear them. They have to wear them to come to their seat.”

“Community is absolutely critical to this thing we call christianity,” said Dykstra. Both church leaders say even if Easter looks a little different this year, they are just happy to be able to see church members once again. Shonebarger says, “All that stuff happened with Covid and it just took the wind out of our sails so to speak, but I really feel the wind blowing again I guess you could say. Just rejuvenated.”

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Church pastors say if you unable to attend the Easter service in person on Sunday, you can watch online.