On the Thursday before Easter at First Baptist Pensacola, members entered the dimly lit chapel, found a seat, and remained silent. The chairs were set in a circle facing the cross that was found in the center. It was known that this was not to be seen as a time of fellowship, but a time to reflect on the cross.
This Maundy Thursday service was a first for the church, part of its Holy Week celebrations under its new Senior Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Dave Snyder.
“During Holy Week, First Baptist Church Pensacola gathered to fulfill our mission to glorify the Father by following the Holy Spirit in telling the story of Jesus,” Snyder said. “In all of our gatherings, our goal was to tell the story of Jesus to anyone that made the decision to come.”
Snyder did a 12-week sermon series “Jesus as a Savior” that concluded Easter Sunday. In addition, the entire church body started Palm Sunday reading through a devotional Snyder wrote for Holy Week.
The attendance was great for the first-time Maundy Thursday service. The body of believers sang hymns and worship songs that focused on the cross. After Snyder spoke, everyone took communion in remembrance of the cross. Once dismissed from this intense hour, everyone left in silence, and in somber focus on the sacrifice of Jesus.
With hearts prepared for Resurrection Day, 1,700 people came to celebrate the resurrection of the Risen Lord on Easter Sunday at First Baptist Pensacola. Foregoing any gimmicks or flashy productions, the church instead held two services at their usual times which were packed out as the congregation worshipped and Snyder spoke on the resurrection of Christ.
“I do not want to produce a manufactured environment we then feel like we have to reproduce every week to get visitors back,” Snyder said. “I want Easter to be a genuine and sustainable time of worship.”
Attendees were encouraged to take a wire and cover the wooden cross in roses. Families could then take pictures in front of the cross covered in blooms as a representation of the beauty we believers get to enjoy because of Jesus.