FORESTVILLE – Members of one faith community reconvened for the first time in a long time Sunday.
The occasion was Palm Sunday, and a special one it was inside Asbury United Methodist Church.
The Rev. Laura Galbraith welcomed back church members for in-person worship, also live-streaming the service online so people could follow along at home if they were unable to attend.
“We wanted to be open for Easter,” the pastor explained. “Most of our folks have received at least one vaccination and a lot of people have had both.”
It was a joyous moment for her to see people back inside the church again, which has been closed since November.
The congregation gathered for worship outdoors last summer and then inside the sanctuary in October, but resumed virtual worship as the holiday season approached and covid-19 rates around the country rose again.
“We’re coming back really slowly and carefully now,” Galbraith said. “We’re seeing how it goes.”
Every other row of pews was sectioned off by tape to keep people at an appropriate distance and all attendees were required to wear masks. Worship leaders removed their masks only while singing hymnals at a safe distance from each other and worshippers.
People took home palm leaves upon their departure. There was no coffee hour or socializing, which the church community was accustomed to doing before the pandemic.
Sunday school is currently not taking place, but church staff will reconsider this by September, the pastor said.
She offered her blessings to all, whether they were standing before her in the sanctuary or watching safely at home.
“We’re not pressuring people to come back,” Galbraith pointed out. “I’d rather have them stay home and watch us on the live stream. We will continue to offer that forever and always, so people will have options for how they want to worship.”
Next Sunday, April 4 is Easter. Asbury United Methodist Church will be holding several services, beginning at 6:30 a.m. with a Sunrise Service outdoors at the Federal Hill gazebo. This will be followed by an 8:30 a.m. service and another at 10 a.m. All three will be live-streamed on the church’s Facebook page.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.