Roanoke church holds Easter service outdoors at Elmwood Park

Published: Apr. 4, 2021 at 5:16 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - In Roanoke, some folks gathered to celebrate Easter this year in a new way. Greene Memorial United Methodist Church held its Sunday Easter service outdoors at Elmwood Park, and it was open to the public.

Outside, at a distance, and in masks, many in Roanoke enjoyed the sunny Easter day at the Elmwood Park amphitheater. Families say it was a creative way to observe Easter during a pandemic.

”It’s a gorgeous day, it’s a beautiful park, it’s really awesome to have this setting in downtown Roanoke, where we can share the joy and love of Jesus with our community,” said Ann Shawver, a member of Greene Memorial United Methodist Church, who came to the service with her family.

The Greene Memorial United Methodist Church has been virtual since the pandemic hit this region, so Sunday’s outdoor service was one of the first in-person services for many members in over a year.

“We’ve seen some of our church members on the camera, but it’s just so nice to see these dear friends of ours in person and be able to say hello, and I’ve loved being able to see some of our families,” Shawver said.

Like the Davis family, saying they were also excited to worship with others in person and safely.

“We’re longtime members of Greene Memorial. Just happy to get together in an outdoor setting ... It’s great, really happy everyone was wearing masks, following social distancing protocols,” John Davis said.

Pastor Joanna Paysour led the outdoor church service.

“It’s part of the Easter story, right? Easter happened outside, the first telling of Easter happened outside, so it’s a perfect setting for Easter, and we get to experience the joy of spring in Southwest Virginia; it’s such a beautiful day,” Paysour said.

She said Elmwood Park provided a great opportunity for families to come together at a distance.

“It’s a bit overwhelming with joy, with some anxiety, we haven’t done anything quite like this, but also with the ability to celebrate together, there is a sense of hope,” Paysour said.

People agreed that despite the uncertain times, they had to make time for Easter.

“That’s the promise of Easter, even when bad things happen, that’s not the last word,” Paysour said.

“It’s all about rebirth and coming out again and coming back to life so that’s more important than ever with the pandemic,” Davis added.

The church also held a donation drive at the park to collect toiletries and diapers for those in need.

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