Covid Quarantine Forces Easter Adaptation

While shelter-in-place guidelines prohibited typical Easter activities, members of local churches managed to celebrate the holiday from the safety of their homes on April 12.

Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church and Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church in Orinda were among those that set up virtual services accessible via the internet.

Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church posted a video on YouTube of the Easter service. Church staff also set up an online process for the congregation to be able to donate to the church’s annual easter offering. According to Associate Pastor of Student and Family Ministries Tommy Branagh, the easter offering “will be split evenly between the Near East School of Theology (NEST) in Beirut, Lebanon, the Ubangi Protestant University (UPU) in Gemena, Congo, and a fund at our church to support families facing the impacts of Coronavirus.”

Likewise, Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church made a 30-minute video available that included readings from the Bible, singing, and a sermon. According to Pastor John Valentine, “5 of us gathered and pre-recorded stuff and put it out. We did a Facebook premiere party at our worship time on Easter Sunday morning and left it up on the internet after that.”

“It was great to see Pastor once again because it has been so long. It was cool to see him on a video on a day that we would usually get to listen to him in person,” said freshman Leighton Jay. “I wish that I could have been there in person, but the virtual service was nice to attend, especially on an important holiday during these strange times.”

In order to facilitate their easter offering, the Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church staff encouraged parishioners to send checks in via mail. “We use a lot of our money for operations and salaries and that sort of thing, but we are also committed to being pretty generous with what comes in to support other organizations both locally and globally,” said Valentine.

Many families also celebrated with Easter-themed games such as the classic egg-hunt, and some students had their fun by playing the popular Nintendo Switch game “animal crossing”. A feature of the game allows players to search a virtual town (or island, according to the version) for eggs. Players give the eggs to a bunny character named Zipper and, in turn, receive egg-themed furniture for use in the virtual world.

While junior Lexie Demos enjoyed playing Animal Crossing, baking a cake, giving new toys to her dogs, and wearing a new Spring outfit, she missed out on her regular Easter family activities. Demos said that the reason she usually loves Easter is that she spends time with her grandparents, which, unfortunately, was not an option this year. “Usually, we go down to my grandparents’ house and spend the week with them and then we go to church. It felt strange because this holiday I loved just turned into another day,” said Demos.

Sophomore Ethan Cho did appreciate having a holiday to distract him from his usual quarantine routine. “Every day feels the same, and I had completely forgotten Easter was coming up until last week when I was out on a bike ride and saw houses with decorations up on a lawn. Seeing videos from my extended family with their babies and young kids having their egg hunts and the Easter bunny visiting them made us all really happy,” said Cho. “The weather also has been great, so it forced us to go outside and have a smidge of normalcy.”