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St. Louis worshipers head online for Easter service

Churches are prohibited from holding traditional in-person services under local stay-at-home orders

ST. LOUIS — Two-year-old Bo Woodward has his bunny ears on as the camera turns his direction and his family member gives the command: "Smile!"

Bo's parents said the bunny ears didn't last long in person, but the moment is captured forever in photographs.

"We have a ton of pictures and videos like I'm sure every other parent at this time. You know for us, it has been special," Lisa Woodward said of the social distancing that has the Woodwards spending Easter at home.

The Woodwards planned on spending Easter Sunday with their fellow congregants from The Gathering. 

A sign on the front door lets visitors know they're practicing social distancing, directing everyone to streaming services online.

Every Easter, The Gathering brings their members from the multiple St. Louis area churches under one roof. This year, faithful would have filled Chaifetz Arena. But there are no crowds on this overcast morning, instead, church members — like Tracy Alonzo — are adapting and worshiping from afar.

"We decided to get dressed since it was Easter, although three out of the five of us were dressed," she said adding, "the other two were in pajamas."

This year's Easter weekend also required some adjustments in order for Tracy Alonzo to keep a 20-plus year tradition with friends.

Alonzo said The Gathering held a kids ministry service over the weekend. 

Credit: Photo from family

Their annual Saturday night dinner was instead replaced with dropped-off hashbrown casserole dishes and a Zoom meeting. 

The Alonzos said it's hard to be away from their "church family," but this year's Easter sermon had a timely message.

"The main message today was God does great things through the darkest of times," Matt Alonzo said. "Not being able to see people, it feels really dark at times. So just look for the good in it."

Their communion included cranberry juice this year.

Credit: Photo provided by family

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