Church of God Congregations Wrap Up Preparations for Holy Week
By Carl Stagner
Anticipation for Easter 2022 is on the rise as the Church of God movement wraps up preparations for Holy Week. Whether it’s renewed excitement on the heels of limited and canceled resurrection festivities of the past couple of years, or a readiness to leave winter behind and embrace the warmth of spring, there’s certainly been an uptick in special plans, programs, and events among local congregations in the United States and Canada. A quick survey of Church of God promotion and activity on social media reveals a wide variety of excellent and creative methods implemented, in progress, or coming soon—all for the purpose of inspiring worship and celebration in the church, inviting and involving the public, and clearly communicating the greatest story ever told.
Consider how one Middletown, Ohio, church is conveying the riveting scenes from the Upper Room. Poasstown First Church of God is bringing back their Last Supper reenactment, inviting the congregation and community to watch and worship. The highly anticipated event, scheduled for Palm Sunday, is sure to set the tone for the duration of Holy Week.
Enhancing the collective experience of Good Friday gatherings, the National Association of the Church of God is again offering a virtual Good Friday service. Expounding upon The Seven Last Words of Jesus, seven women ministers this year will speak messages of reflection and hope. The musical guests announced this year are also women. From 12:00 until 2:00 PM EDT, anyone can tune in on YouTube at www.youtube.com/nacogtv.
Of course, the opportunities for outreach beyond traditional and modern methods of theater and worship are especially plentiful at Easter. While the popular Easter egg hunt remains a staple for Church of God congregations everywhere, some congregations are putting their own twist on the tradition. In East Point, Kentucky, Little Paint First Church of God plans a Easter Trunk Hop—think Trunk or Treat, only for Easter! Besides moving from car to car for candy-filled eggs, guests are welcome to “come and experience the Bible in 3D…and also enjoy the fun of a scavenger hunt. Other activities include inflatables, face painting, an obstacle course, a photo op, and fun snacks.”
In Vancouver, Washington, the Church of God congregation led by pastor Chris Kainu is pulling out all the stops for an incredibly massive event that families won’t forget. Besides an Easter egg hunt, they’re offing the community bounce houses, obstacle courses, a climbing wall, a petting zoo, a family comedy show—and of course, free food, including ice cream.
North Main Street Church of God in Butler, Pennsylvania, is putting their own spin on Easter outreach as they present a uniquely interactive experience. The “’Twas the Morning of Easter Story Walk” offers stations, rather than scattered searching, for Easter eggs. “Kids will gather Easter eggs or treats at each station of the story along the way,” their advertisement explains. “The Story Walk will end at the playground where we’ll have snacks and drinks available.”
Speaking of “stations,” there are always several Church of God congregations annually that feature a “stations of the cross” tangible experience for worshipers. The Church at Broadway Park in Alexandria, Indiana, will offer a self-guided opportunity to do just that. The event descriptions details, “A self-guided, interactive experience to provide a time of reflection, prayer, communion, and music. You will move at your own pace through different stations that will give you space to reflect on the events of Jesus’ crucifixion in a unique and meaningful way. Kids are welcome! They will have their own special version.”
Even among churches, the sacred holiday itself is often reserved for family gatherings and get-togethers—at least after church is over! Church programs for Thanksgiving and Christmas often—but not always—take place before the holiday. The same is often true concerning Easter projects and initiatives. But in Elmore, Ohio, the Church of God congregation is choosing to serve their community on Easter Sunday. From 11:00 in the morning until 12:30 in the afternoon (or until food runs out), the church will serve a “drive-through” special Easter lunch consisting of ham, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, dinner roll, and, of course, dessert.
Before most of the hubbub of Holy Week commences, Church of God Ministries wants to help focus the hearts and minds of pastors and congregations on the risen Lord. In that spirit, Jim Lyon is offering a special Facebook Live video on Thursday, April 7, at 7:00 PM EDT. Don’t miss this opportunity to reflect—and consider depth of sacred meaning behind the iconic symbols of the season.
Feature (top) photo: Teays Valley Church of God (Scott Depot, West Virginia) Easter outreach several years ago (file photo).