From sunrise to online: Easter Sunday church services are alive and well this weekend

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Easter Sunday, the hallmark holiday for those of the Christian faith, celebrated for centuries. The COVID-19 outbreak has forced a change in the way churches are celebrating this special day of resurrection and new life.

Westminster Presbyterian Pastor Will Shurley never set out to be a televangelist, much less an online one, but like many of us, he’s learning to adapt, even working his own camera phone to livestream church sermons. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to think about ways for us to continue to proclaim the gospel from our church. Lo and behold, technology, like Facebook Live, has made it possible for us to do that. It has, in a way, I feel like I am answering a new calling to preach through technology.”

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Although the means of sharing the gospel has changed, the message has not. “It’s always relevant to every generation. This Easter is up against the backdrop of the COVID 19 pandemic, so this year when we celebrate the resurrection and new life, it may take on a new meaning for folks.”

Preparations are also underway for Easter services in Ocean Springs at Center Pointe Church where they’re also ramping up their online reach to spread the gospel. Senior Pastor Ted Pagel said, “It’s where we are right now during this pandemic, so it makes it very difficult to do it any other way. I am at least thankful and grateful that we have the technology of online communication, the internet, Facebook Live, to be able to get the message to our people, to keep us connected.”

Connected and comforted. Center Pointe Church Worship Pastor Crystal Westmoreland is in tune with the struggles many are facing now as she has some struggles of her own.

She says being a Christian doesn’t make you immune to the hardships of life, but better equipped to handle them and that’s something to sing about. “Our worship is to God, and while it’s different not having people in the room, we can still worship and we can still praise. I know the people at home right now that are joining us online, they are able to worship God at home because we can worship God anywhere.”

This weekend as many Easter sunrise services give way to online services, the message of hope and redemption remains the same this Easter holiday, a story of old reflective of this present day era, as the whole world awaits a resurrection and victory over death and COVID-19.

You can catch Westminster Presbyterian church services for the Easter holiday weekend this Saturday at 4 p.m. and on Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m. and then at 10:30 a.m. on the Westminster Presbyterian church’s Facebook page and on their website at Gulfportchurch.org.

To catch Center Pointe Church’s Easter Sunday services, you can head on over to their Center Pointe Church Facebook page Sunday morning at 9 a.m. or watch the service later on their website at gotocpc.org.

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned....