In-person church services, celebrations return over holiday weekend

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RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) — After two years of church gatherings largely impacted by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many congregations across the Triangle are gearing up to full capacity this weekend.

“There’s something special about the Triduum that the Catholic faith expresses. And the more people there are, the more humble I feel about it. It’s just a very special time of year. And I love it,” said Joyce Lowe, who attended Good Friday services. at the Cathedral of the Holy Name of Jesus in Raleigh.

Improved COVID-19 measures, combined with widely available vaccines, have led to most restrictions being lifted, with more people comfortable coming back in person.

“It’s been really exciting because no matter how effective social media and virtual and live streaming is, there’s nothing like being in the presence of other people, of believers, and the embrace of humanity is very special,” said Reverend Dr. Dumas Harshaw Jr., who serves as a pastor at First Baptist Church in downtown Raleigh.

The church still requires masks and enforces social distancing, while offering live streaming services for those not ready to return. Harshaw will also join five other faith leaders to participate in the Sunday morning Sunrise Service on the Capitol’s east side, which begins at 6:30 a.m.; it will be the first time it has taken place since the start of the pandemic.

Friday sunset also marks the start of Passover, when many Jewish families will gather for the first time in two years to observe.

“We have people who come with their family and friends in a safe way that shul and congregation can come together means so much. The holidays are about telling stories, about our ultimate story of the exodus, but it’s “is also personal opportunities for sharing. For recipes, stories, questions, to be together as much as possible,” said Rabbi Eric Solomon of Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh.

Solomon will conduct the Seder at the synagogue.

“A holiday like this is the first time in over two years that it’s fulfilled that feeling of – we’re here to serve. We can’t wait to be there. People are looking forward to it. It’s okay to be a party in a way that builds appreciation,” Solomon said.

Both Harshaw and Solomon stressed the importance of the respective holidays in the context of current events, including the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“Even in the presence of people, we encourage each other. Because we have all been traumatized. We are traumatized by the wars that take place, the violence, the shootings. Yet all the challenges we face in our society and in our our world today. So it’s good to come together on a celebratory note. Of love and what that means and also to hope that that too will pass. And that’s what the resurrection really represents. said Harshaw.

“The themes of being forced to flee, that there is an oppressor, some kind of pharaoh, in modern times we would identify that with (Russian President) Vladimir Putin, who sends people to be potentially unfortunately enslaved or oppressed and run, and run to finally freedom, but how scary. In the story, we know how it ends, but (this) story is still being written right now. So this re-telling of this story is also an inspiration, that we have already been through terrible times, not only for our people but for Ukrainians in general, and that we can go together to Earth promised,” Solomon said.

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