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April 18th, 2021

2021 easter afterglow logoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Easter Sunday has come and gone, but some Easter celebrations are still being planned in some communities, including Liberal. 

This year's Easter Afterglow service will start at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 11 at First Southern Baptist Church. 

“The Ministerial Alliance hosts the Easter Afterglow service each year, last year was actually the first year we had to cancel it since COVID-19 was going on and all of that,” coordinator Jeremy Harris said. “The service is an opportunity for other local churches in the Ministerial Alliance to share some of their Easter music or skits with the community. A lot of churches work really hard on something special for their Easter services, but for the most part, they perform it once for their particular congregation and then never again, so the idea is to get all the Ministerial Alliance churches together to share their Easter stuff with a different audience of people. We're continuing that this year, and it's going to be a little smaller than in years past – we've got six churches that will be coming and sharing either a skit or some music with those who attend. We invite everyone in Liberal to come join us for that evening, it will be a time of worship and music and drama from the different churches. We'll also be streaming the service this year, that's something we haven't done in the past, but due to the COVID-19 situation, we know there are still people who aren't quite comfortable being in a large gathering setting like this one but still want to participate, so we're going to stream it so everyone can experience it and enjoy it in some way.”

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A handful of churches will be sharing their talents for this year’s event, Harris said. 

“The Church of the Nazarene will be there doing a skit, New Beginnings Church will also be there doing a short drama, First Baptist Church will be bringing their praise team, and Risen Glory will have one of their members coming and sharing a solo,” Harris said. “As the host church, First Southern Baptist Church will be leading some songs so everyone can join together, and Faith Tabernacle will also bring a song for the community. All of the churches in the Ministerial Alliance have been invited to come be part of this and fellowship with everyone else.”

With last year’s Easter Afterglow service being canceled due to COVID-19, Harris said he is excited to see the service back again this year. 

“It's really exciting and I'm really happy we're able to do the service again this year. You never know who will all be at a service like this just generally speaking, and with us starting to move slowly toward post-COVID-19 conditions, it's hard to know how many people will feel comfortable in a setting like this,” Harris said. “Being able to have something like this is really exciting for us, it's been such a long year of being advised to not do stuff in order to stay healthy, so getting to plan something like this and be able to actually go through with it, I think it's great. The biggest thing for me is after last year, and after having to cancel so many of our usual events (Easter Afterglow, Baccalaureate, etc.), it's great to be able to this again and gather some of the different churches in town together for this. We'll do our best to give space to the people who need it, but we also want to allow people to gather together and spend some time together with something like this.”

Harris added the Easter Afterglow service will be a good chance for fellowship among the community. 

“Too often, it's almost like all the different churches are islands unto themselves and their respective congregations, but being able to gather people from different churches for a worship service like this is really cool,” Harris said. “We're all serving Jesus, so being able to worship together in the same setting where it's less about which church you attend and more about just praising God and Easter, that's really cool to me. It's also really cool to me, as a staff person of a church, to get a glimpse of what some of the other churches in town do for worship and music and things like that. When you're particularly plugged in to one church, you don't have much of an idea of how some of your fellow churches operate, so that's something else that's always really interesting to me, and it's fun to see some of that.”

Along with the fellowship, Harris said there are some other things he enjoys about having the Easter Afterglow service. 

“I love how it's a little like a variety show in the sense that each church has their own things, whether it's to do with music or a skit that's performed,” Harris said. “Not only is it fun to see how other churches might operate, it might also encourage people to experience parts of worship in a different way. None of us know what Heaven will look like, but we know people of every race, creed and religion will be there, so the worship in Heaven isn't going to look like what any of us do here on Earth. This is a great picture of how worship can be a bit of a melting pot through this.”

Harris added there are precautions being taken to help keep everyone safe and healthy. 

“We're working on cleaning the church and making sure everything's sanitary and all of that. As far as the social distancing and masks and all of that, we'll let people use their best judgment,” Harris said. “If someone wants to come but would feel more comfortable being masked and not being around a lot of other people, we have enough space for them to do that, or if someone comes but doesn't want to wear a mask and would prefer to sit with a small group of their friends they maybe haven't seen in a while, we'll have enough space for that too. Do what's comfortable for you, and have respect and kindness for those around you, no matter what. The main goal is for people to fellowship together, but we also respect not everyone feels exactly the same way right now as far as being around large groups of people in a set area.”

The biggest objective, Harris reiterated, is the fellowship. 

“The biggest thing is we want everyone to have the chance to worship and fellowship together through this Afterglow service,” Harris said. “Another change for this year is we won't be doing the meal afterwards, we want to keep people healthy, so we decided to forego that for this year. It's a great, low key way to hear the good news and celebrate Easter, and we want to see people from all different churches to come together.”

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