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Central Arkansas churches safely prepare for large Easter Sunday crowds

"I think people are ready to bust out of what's holding us down and really experience God's best in their life again, and I hope that's what happens this year.”

ARKANSAS, USA — It's Good Friday and churches in central Arkansas are preparing for Easter Sunday services.

With it being the day that usually holds the largest crowds in sanctuaries for some houses of worship, it took a lot of planning to safely move forward with services. 

"This year especially, people are ready to get out and enjoy the sunshine, the Spring, and everything,” said Doug Pruitt, Midtowne Church pastor.

Pastors like Pruitt are just as ready to see your faces come Sunday morning.

"We are not doing tickets or registration or anything like that. We just want people to show up. We do have some overflow space available if we need it,” said Pruitt.

Midtowne Church has added a third service to allow social distancing, and they've designated time between each service to clean.

"We sanitize everything. We have a spray thing that we do. We don't reuse our pens and things like that,” said Pruitt.  

If you decide to go to Benton First United Methodist Church, they've made their social distancing policy pretty clear.

If the back of the seat cushion is up, you can't sit there. If it's down, that's where you can take a seat.

"We are maintaining our same standards that we have held throughout the pandemic,” said Rev. Ben Crismon, Benton FUMC senior pastor.

Crismon said those standards include temperature checks, making a reservation for a seat, and contact tracing.

He also asks guests to wear a mask despite the governor lifting the mandate.

"Our bishop, the head of the United Methodist Church in Arkansas, has encouraged us to continue wearing masks until we've reached herd immunity," Crismon said. "I feel confident that we can do that to keep ourselves safe and offer a witness to the world to care for others like the way Jesus cares for us."

Crismon said they'll continue with online services for those who don't feel comfortable going to in-person worship.

His church, too, has added additional service times, but abbreviated ones to allow time for cleaning.

As each church prepares in their own way to safely gather, they hope people find peace in what has been one of the hardest years.

"I think people are ready to bust out of what's holding us down and really experience God's best in their life again, and I hope that's what happens this year,” said Pruitt.

Both these churches have their service times on their social media pages.

There is a lot of variety out there in how Easter will be handled, so be sure to check ahead of time with your local church before Sunday.