Even pastors who had livestreamed plenty of services felt the difference when the pandemic struck. On that first Easter, April 12, 2020, churches had to lock their doors to keep people from coming in to worship.
“All of a sudden, I was preaching to a camera,” said the Rev. Marcel L. Taillon, senior pastor of St. Thomas More Parish and St. Veronica Chapel in Narragansett, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence.
Parishioners were probably watching from home, but Father Taillon could see only empty pews.
Father Taillon said the onset of the pandemic in February and March 2020 “was really difficult. We had the most calls ever for confession.” They heard confessions by walking around the parking lot, he said.
For the pandemic’s second Easter, on April 4, 2021, when the number of U.S. dead from the coronavirus had reached 550,000, the faithful were allowed back inside their places of worship, but everyone had to wear masks, and seating arrangements were contrived to leave 6 feet of space between individuals or groups that didn’t live together.
‘Live in faith, not in fear’
The Rev. Chris Abhulime, the founding pastor of King’s Tabernacle in Johnston, is Gov. Dan McKee’s deputy chief of staff for equity and diversity. He is also a clinical/biopharmaceutical scientist with a degree in veterinary medicine.
In 2015, he and his congregation, who had been meeting in Providence, bought a church building at 500 Greenville Ave. in Johnston, but the town refused to issue a permit to use the building. The church sued. Persisting despite racial hatred directed at them, Abhulime’s independent Pentecostal church is now embraced by the town.
CREDIT: THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL