Religious Leaders react to celebrating Easter online


Courtesy of Redeemer Church Website

Pastor Scott Dunford of the Redeemer Church will broadcast an Easter sermon on Facebook Live.

Citizens across the country find themselves living in unique, unprecedented times amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. 

This pandemic has led to an era of shelter-in-place that has presented an abundance of new challenges and learning curves to all Americans, including pastors and the congregations they lead.

Scott Dunford is one of the Lead Elders and Pastors of Redeemer Church in Fremont, which is a non-denominational church.

“Easter is our most special time of year when Christians remember and celebrate the death of Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for our sins and his resurrection three days in victory over death,”Dunford said. “While we long to gather together as we typically do, we are encouraging our people to celebrate this Easter at home with their families. Because the Spirit of Christ is within every believer, we can enjoy the blessing of Easter whenever we are.”

“There is a time and place for civil disobedience. St. Peter himself famously told the government of his day that we must obey God rather than men. Beyond that, the Constitution of the United States clearly prohibits the government from making laws that prohibit the free exercise of worship,” Dunford said. “These regulations, however, are not about the free practice of religion but are about public safety. Churches should take Christ’s commands to love our neighbors as ourselves to heart, and love our neighbors enough to not gather until this pandemic has passed. The government in this situation is doing exactly what God has commanded governments to do and Christians should gladly submit to the governmental authorities and stay home.”

“Our church is doing a variety of things this Easter that are nontypical for us. Instead of a Good Friday Service, families have been encouraged to record Scripture readings, art renderings and musical performances that capture the heart of Christ’s sacrifice. These have been collected and compiled into a Good Friday meditation,” Dunford said. “Each day this week at noon we have gathered virtually on Facebook Live while one of our pastors leads a prayer based on enduring historical Christian confessions. On Easter Sunday, we will gather in our individual homes; and I will broadcast an Easter sermon on Facebook Live. We are so thankful for technology and the way it keeps us connected even during these otherwise isolated times.”

Paul Chung, Courtesy of Peace Lutheran Website

 Paul Chung is the Lead Pastor at Peace Lutheran Church in Santa Clara. Peace Lutheran is a WELS Lutheran church.

“No one can hide and change the truth of the resurrection because it is the proof of Jesus’ innocent death for the world. This beautiful aroma of Resurrected Jesus is in us and with us always,” Chung said.

“The Earthly Government is a representative of God to keep a measure of order in this dying world and to protect us from the disorder of sin,” Chung said. “Therefore, we need to obey the government as citizens for our physical protection from harm.

Keith Crosby is the Lead Pastor at Hillside Church in San Jose. Hillside Church is part of the Evangelical Free Church.

Pastor Keith Crosby, Courtesy of Hillside Church

“We’re trying to encourage them to do it as a family in their home. Humanity was promised a rescuer, and Jesus going to the cross in our place was the fulfillment of that promise,” Crosby said. “We’ve provided a means to celebrate online through a webcast also.

“I think as good citizens, Romans 13 reminds us to respect the government; and in this present time and in the interest of public safety, citizens should be respecting the government. However, I don’t think that should last indefinitely, and I don’t think the government has the right to regulate freedom of assembly or freedom of religion. Often governments are slow to give up these types of restrictions once they’ve been put in place,” Crosby said.

“At Hillside, we are providing online worship services through webcast, and we will be offering a service Saturday at 5 p.m. and three Sunday services at 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.. We are providing a number of online Zoom calls, webcasts and virtual gatherings.”

Jeff Guarascio is the Lead Pastor at Relentless Community Church in San Jose.

“I am encouraging my congregation to celebrate Easter first by remembering that God is in control of our current situation and to not be overcome with fear and anxiety. I am also encouraging them to focus on Jesus and what He accomplished by dying on the cross and rising from the dead,” Guarascio said. 

“I believe we are to obey the laws of the land as we trust that God is in control. If gatherings have been prohibited with the intent to save lives, then I think we should submit to this ordinance. I also believe that having the proper perspective is important,” Guarascio said. “God, for whatever reason, has allowed the church to face a circumstance that has basically canceled all public gatherings. This alone has caused me to slow down and try and hear what He may be trying to say during this time. Our church is having … an online broadcast on Easter Sunday (via Zoom).”