A Dallas church that hasn’t met in person in more than a year came together for Easter services at Klyde Warren Park on Sunday.
Members of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church took safeguards to protect themselves.
Temperatures were checked as people arrived and they were encouraged to wear masks and stay socially distant. Attendance was limited to 1,500 members so congregants could spread out.
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"Whew! What a difference a year makes,” Senior Pastor Richie Butler told congregants. “It is so good to see you in person.”
For the last year, the church has been getting together online.
But for so many reasons, it's just not the same.
For one thing, Butler said preaching into a camera presents challenges.
"In our tradition, there's this notion of call and response. I say something and the people respond to it,” Butler said. “So when I'm preaching into a TV monitor or a camera, there's no response. You don't know if it's flat or it really resonated with the people."
But on Easter Sunday, the pastor and the people interacted in person.
The sermon was about removing obstacles in our lives.
"What's stands in the way of you loving and serving Jesus?" Butler said.
With COVID-19 numbers trending downward and millions more Americans getting vaccinated every day, St. Luke hopes to start in-person Sunday services again very soon.
Butler, a real estate developer and former SMU football player, became senior pastor at St. Luke in June – in the middle of the pandemic.
He and his wife both contracted COVID-19 themselves several months ago.
The predominately Black church, located just east of downtown Dallas along Interstate 30, has hosted COVID-19 vaccination clinics recently but no in-person worship services since March 2020.
“I enjoyed it,” church member Angela Hicks said as she left the park. “I can’t wait until we get back together as a church and be together with everybody.”