Pastor prepares for Easter Sunday despite empty church

GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Easter Sunday, one of the biggest days of the year for faith, is coming and going seemingly in silence.

It’s a change of pace for parishioners around the world.

“Easter is like the Super Bowl for the church, right?” said Jathan Austin, lead pastor at Bethel Empowerment Church in Grandville. “And it’s empty.”

To say that this Easter is different is an understatement.

“In most black churches, we love to hear our amens,” he said. “We love a talk-back church and when you’re sitting here, trying to create this synergy that only you can create with yourself — it’s very difficult.”

His 11:30 a.m. service on Easter is entirely recorded and he knows what works in person doesn’t necessarily translate online.

“I don’t want them just to watch the service because that’s not what we do as worshipers,” said Austin. “We engage in worship, just like you would if you were here inside the building. So now we have to create that same atmosphere, which is a different level of engagement and intimacy, that has to translate online.”

And you would think that presenting a service to an empty sanctuary would be less nerve-wracking. But that’s not the case.

“There’s a level of anxiety that’s involved because now you get a chance to instead of ministering to 400 or 500 people that would be in the building, you get the opportunity to minister 4,000-5,000 people that would watch you online,” he said.

And despite the temporary lack of togetherness, the pastor is confident in a swift return to form.

“We’ll be back here worshiping, back here praising God, back here, hugging on each other, loving on each other as we do as a community,” said Austin. “And I can’t wait to see you here at Bethel Empowerment Church.”

You can find his Easter service on his Facebook page.