Celebrating Easter during lockdown

Churches in South Leeds have found new ways to celebrate Holy Week and replace cancelled services during the ongoing lockdown.

Facebook livestreams, podcasts, YouTube masses and online material for people of all ages have allowed Christians of all denominations to celebrate Easter.

The coronavirus pandemic and social-distancing restrictions introduced last month have seen churches adapt to observe Holy Week in unprecedented ways.

The Leeds South & West Methodist Circuit has posted worship material containing prayers, hymns and Bible readings online in PDF format and has released another edition for Easter Sunday 2020.

Worshippers were able to celebrate Maundy Thursday with their own cake and water from home and a Good Friday service via YouTube podcasts that started in March.

“It’s a very different experience walking to the Cross this year. We would normally be meeting in our church buildings gathered around the Lenten Cross, revisiting the symbols as we make our journey towards Good Friday and Easter Day,” said Rev Rach Ward in her Good Friday podcast on 9 April 2020.

“And yet we are still the church. We are scattered behind the doors of our own homes, but we are church. We are the people of God, of hope, of courage.”

Members of the group include Beeston Hill United Free Church, St Andrew’s Methodist Church on Old Lane in Beeston, The Church in Cottingley and Hunslet Methodist Church.

An Easter Day service will be held at 11am on YouTube and The Methodist Church in Britain is holding a sing-a-long at 4pm on the same day.

Rev Lindsey Pearson

Rev Lindsey Pearson of Beeston St Mary’s Church has started Facebook live videos for the first time. She offered advice and support for congregants on Maundy Thursday and celebrated Palm Sunday by processing around her garden.

Worshippers have been encouraged to hang palm crosses from their windows to celebrate Holy Week during the lockdown.

St Luke’s Church in Holbeck had already been holding Sunday services on Facebook since March and recorded two live streams with Curate Rolf Mason on Good Friday, including a family service that had music for young participants.

A ‘Little Church Mice’ Facebook page was created for Sunday School groups with links to songs, prayer and craft activities for children.

Families in Leeds also contributed to a Maundy Thursday livestream posted on St Luke’s Facebook page, adding to the participative nature of Holy Week worship during lockdown.

St Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church has uploaded mass sheets to its website throughout Holy Week. An archive of pre-recorded masses with Rev Fr Timothy Whitwell is available on its website and YouTube and offerings to the offertory can be made via text.

Leeds Cathedral will live-stream Sunday Mass at 11am on 12 April 2020.

And the Church of the Nazarene on Hunslet Hall Road has been holding services on Facebook livestreams every Sunday at 10.30am.

Celebrating mass at St Anthony’s church in Beeston