Virtual Worship
To ensure families would have access to Easter Sunday service from home, many Orlando-based Christian churches made the transition from traditional face-to-face services to virtual celebrations due to COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Easter is laughing children and blooming flowers. It’s bowed heads and murmured “amens.” 

Easter is a day for egg hunts with candy and $1 bills inside multi-colored plastic eggs. Parents dress their children up in pastel dresses and ties. Breakfast restaurants have two-hour waits. Grandparents go to church with their grandchildren and get to see the new generation of their family play and pray.


Easter is a day for those of Christian faith to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

This year, Easter will look different.

Due to threats of COVID-19, many churches in Orlando moved their services online for Easter Sunday so families could still attend church from home.

COVID-19’s effect on the state led Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to issue an executive order that went into effect on April 3, limiting individuals to only leave their homes when in need of an essential service or to perform an essential activity. In the order, DeSantis lists religious services as an essential activity, along with exercise and grocery shopping.

“I think that the service that they’re performing is going to be very important for people, especially when you have difficult circumstances,” DeSantis said during an April 2 press conference. “… I think people are going to want to have access to religious services, whether it’s online, whether it’s in a more socially distant type of service, but to have that available I think is very important.”

DeSantis said the goal is to reduce contact with people outside of their homes and said it is important to allow people to have access to religious services.

C3 Church — a Christian church that holds Sunday service at Timber Creek High School in Orlando’s Avalon Park neighborhood — is one church that has adjusted its operations to adapt because of COVID-19.

“It’s been a significant shift for us because Easter is Super Bowl Sunday for churches,” said C3 Church Senior Pastor Byron Bledsoe. “It’s a huge blowout.”

For C3 Church, Bledsoe said the original plan for Easter was to have an energetic service with music and a message about Jesus Christ’s resurrection. The church also planned on having activities for kids, including an Easter egg hunt, a petting zoo and bounce houses.

“We found daycares and kids’ events and donated the Easter eggs we got,” Bledsoe said. “They had candy in them already. We figured, ‘Let’s use them in the community as another kind gesture.’”

The church will be having 10 virtual services on Easter Sunday. The first service will start at 8 a.m., and the last service will start at 9:30 p.m.

“It was an unfolding process,” Bledsoe said. “We kept hoping we could meet for Easter, but the closer it got, it became clear we wouldn’t be able to.”

C3 Church is just one of several Orlando churches changing its Easter plans.

Celebration Church has locations across the globe, including two campuses in Orlando — downtown Orlando and College Park. 

The church had planned to hold service at Bob Carr Theater in downtown Orlando on Easter Sunday so that both locations could meet in one place, but had to change course due to the threat of COVID-19.

“A part of our 2020 plans was developing a studio space and getting equipment so we would have more abilities during the middle of the week to create resources for our church,” said Celebration Church Creative Executive Pastor Lindsey Brenner. “At the beginning of the year, we had started working on that. So we were already down that path of digital options outside of our [in-person] Sunday services.”

Celebration Church also created a digital platform for those in need. The Needs Connect Platform has two options for church congregates: “I need help” or “I can help.”

“It took about a week or so of getting [the platform] created, and last week, we called everyone in our church,” Brenner said. “There were a handful of people who were desperately in need of groceries or physical needs. We also got phone calls from people who said, ‘We’re good, but we want to help.’”

The platform also has job postings for people looking for employment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an interim guidance for community and faith-based organizations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout facilities and communities.

“We’re really trying to pay attention to — and honor — what government leaders are asking us to do,” Bledsoe said. “We want to be good citizens, and we don’t want to ignore that stuff.”

On March 16, the CDC and President Donald Trump issued the “30 Days to Slow the Spread” guidance, which advises people to practice social distancing and to avoid gathering in groups larger than 10.

“The way this all came about is shocking and different and unprecedented,” Brenner said. “But the heart of it is not shocking from the fact that we really believe God is drawing the church back to the root of it: the family and the home.”

Easter is laughing children and blooming flowers. It’s bowed heads and murmured “amens.”

Easter is a day for gathering with family at home. It’s breakfast in bed and wearing pajamas. It’s FaceTiming grandparents and tuning into church service on the computer. 

This year, Easter will look different. But it will be celebrated all the same.