NAPLES–Although the medium used to communicate this year’s Easter messages was in stark contrast to previous years, the Good News proclaimed by churches across southwest Florida remained the same – Jesus lives!
Instead of being hindered by COVID-19 constraints, the region’s Florida Baptist congregations tapped into their creativity to discover new and resourceful ways to connect with their members in celebration of Christianity’s Holy Week.
Legacy Church, located 20 miles north of Naples in Estero, found a new way to gather for Easter Sunday. Led by Pastor Chris Mueller, the church broadcasted their service from a rented trailer bed to cars parked on the church’s property in a classic drive-in format.
Many churches, including Bell Shoals Baptist Church and North Naples Baptist Church, hosted online Good Friday and Easter Sunday services, reaching both their congregations and people scattered around the world.
Primarily a church of children and young families, North River Church, located in Parrish, about 30 miles northeast of Bradenton, relied on Facebook to host a seven-day Easter photo scavenger hunt. Church families were encouraged to read daily Scriptures and post pictures in the comment section of their family completing the challenge. North River families were also provided bags with eggs and a family devotional guide.
Refusing to let a long-lived Easter tradition go-by-the-wayside, West Bradenton Baptist Church encouraged members to take family pictures in front of a familiar site located on the church’s property, a flower cross. West Bradenton also encouraged members to display the church’s Easter signs in their yards to create a scavenger hunt around their community.
First Baptist Church in Palmetto offered a virtual egg hunt for children during their online Easter service. They challenged children to find 27 eggs strategically hidden throughout their online broadcast—including one in Pastor Phillip Hamm’s shirt pocket.
Summit Church, with campuses in Fort Myers and Naples, continued to provide many opportunities for their church to stream services online. These included a weekly morning prayer and worship session, podcasts, and devotions.
Crossroads Baptist Church in Fort Myers created an on-line daily Bible reading plan to encourage members in their spiritual growth.
Calvary Church, with campuses in Clearwater, Seminole, and Tarpon Springs, hosted daily devotions throughout Holy Week and streamed a Good Friday Lord’s Supper service. Calvary Church used this Covid-19-challenged time to serve and love their community, delivering bags with food, diapers and baby wipes to 200 homes over the past few weeks.
As a result, the church reported they had been able to pray for people and provide them with gospel resources.
The church continues to collect food and other items for their communities and first responders.