ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Churches across the state are gearing up to celebrate Easter with in-person services for the first time since the pandemic began. KRQE spoke with Dustin Woodward, the lead pastor of Citizen Church in Albuquerque. Woodward believes Easter came at a perfect time as COVID cases go down and we continue to steadily get back to a semblance of normalcy.
Last year, Citizen Church and other churches throughout the state held virtual services or drive-ins for Easter. The public health order at the time had banned mass gatherings at houses of worship. Woodward said pre-COVID, Easter is their most popular service.
The church will be following the state guidelines which only allow yellow counties like Bernalillo County to have 33 percent capacity for indoor services. That means there could be up to 600 people in their auditorium per service. Woodward said their COVID-safe practices have been in place since they were allowed to have in-person services again starting last summer. He said everyone is required to wear masks and social distance. He also said the church has several hand-sanitizing stations, is checking peoples’ temperatures, and is disinfecting the auditorium between services.
Woodward believes this will be an Easter he’ll never forget or take for granted. “This is my first Easter to be able to preach in front of human beings in the room and so I’m really excited. We’re anticipating a lot of excitement to give hope back to people again, and again just that glimpse of normalcy,” said Woodward.
He said people must RSVP to each Easter service. They’re estimated to have a total of about five to six thousand people attending their in-person and online services this Easter weekend. Woodward does encourage people to stay at home and watch the service online if they’re sick or part of the vulnerable population.
KRQE reached out to other large churches like Calvary and Legacy about their plans but have not heard back. Their websites show they plan on having in-person services on Easter.