Second Easter in pandemic delivers message of hope and renewal

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For Christians, Sunday marked the second Easter celebration in the midst of the pandemic. While services across Minnesota may have been smaller, this year looked much different than last.

At Cedar Valley Church in Bloomington, church greeters welcomed the congregation with smiles and signs.

"I’m so thankful to be in a place surrounded by so many people who are also celebrating this day," Janelle Batty said. She and her family decided to attend church in person this Easter.

So did many others. The Rev. Neal Rich said he was surprised by the turnout, even if there were fewer people than Easters pre-pandemic.

"They love meeting together. I think people have really missed that, they’ve been starved for that. Everybody seems to acknowledge that," Rich said.

This time last year, the church building was closed and services were only offered online. While the last year has been trying, Rich said he believes his congregation has come through stronger.

“Generosity is at a record high. We’ve helped more families in our church financially than we’ve ever helped," he said.

He’s even more hopeful to see some familiar faces returning to church.

“I just saw a couple of people a second ago and they said, ‘Hey, we’ve been vaccinated. We’ve had both of our shots,’ and so clearly it’s bringing those people back," he said.

With a congregation masked and socially distanced with a row in between, Rich delivered a message of hope and renewal.

"I think there is hope and I think we know there is hope,” he said, “We’re coming out of this.”