Churches in the community are preparing to welcome their congregations back for Easter, but most — such as the Love Life Family Christian Center in Eastpointe, pictured — still have safety measures such as social distancing in effect.

Churches in the community are preparing to welcome their congregations back for Easter, but most — such as the Love Life Family Christian Center in Eastpointe, pictured — still have safety measures such as social distancing in effect.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

Eastpointe, Roseville churches prepare to welcome people back for Easter services

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 21, 2021


EASTPOINTE/ROSEVILLE — With Easter quickly approaching, several churches in Eastpointe and Roseville are preparing to welcome their congregations back — something that has been rare for most institutions since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than a year ago.

The beginning of the vaccination process has given people hope, and this has convinced most places of worship in the community that opening their doors for services again is possible.

One of the most notable changes in this regard was Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron lifting a dispensation removing the requirement for Catholics to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation as of March 13.

“The archbishop of Detroit has lifted the dispensation for people not having to attend Mass, but we still encourage people to care for their health if they don’t feel well,” said the Rev. Greg Rozborski, the pastor of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Parish in Roseville. “We are coming back as much as we can. We still have to wear the masks, of course, and social distance. We still want to make sure everyone is safe and well.”

Having places of worship closed or moving services online has been commonplace since the onset of COVID-19. The Rev. Jeff Heimsoth, the pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Eastpointe, said the last year has been a challenge.

“We didn’t have any worship services on campus last year. It was pretty devastating,” he remarked. “It’s interesting talking with people. They hunger to be in contact with other people, and yet there’s a real hesitancy. One of the things we’ve discovered is people need just a gentle nudge to go back. We are very thankful for people who stayed with virtual worship online. We do want people to know that people are going back to school and eating in restaurants, so we think it’s a good time to start going back to worship.”

He went on to say that being able to attend services in person is a very important matter to people of faith, and he was very glad that they were able to reach a point where he felt comfortable bringing people back into the building in time for Easter.

“We will actually be worshipping, which didn’t happen last year,” said Heimsoth. “We’re adding a third service just to accommodate for social-distanced seating. Everyone is asked to wear a mask the whole time. We will also do a beefed-up online service that weekend for those who still aren’t coming out.”

Faith leaders hope residents will continue to stay safe and take proper measures when attending services, particularly during Holy Week.

“We want everyone to come back,” said Rozborski. “It has been a year, so we hope people will come back home. We’ve all been prudent and safe, and we will continue to be, but we hope to engage with people again. People have missed that sense of community and what attending in person offers.”

“We’ll be doing Stations of the Cross on Friday, the blessing of the food on Saturday, Easter Sunday Mass; our Holy Week schedule is fully back. It’s just a matter of doing it safely,” added Sandy Banovetz, the St. Pio parish secretary.

A key part of this is making sure the churches themselves are making sure they are doing everything they can to keep people safe and healthy, said the Rev. Kevin Lancaster of Love Life Family Christian Center in Eastpointe.

“I want people to know it is safe. We are putting in all of the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommended precautions,” he said. “We take temperatures when they come in, we ask everyone to use masks, we have hand sanitizing stations, and any fellowship programs take place outside so we can keep everyone safe. … We’re having in-person services on Sundays only, but our seats are still distanced 6 feet apart. We do have three overflow rooms available and will have online services, as well.”

All three faith leaders said they are excited to see members of their congregations again but urge people to be safe and use common sense. If they can attend, they should attend; if they are feeling sick or are still at-risk of contracting COVID-19, they should stay home and consider an online option.

“I think our message is that we’re excited to see people come back, but we also are excited that we can still reach people even if they don’t come to the campus,” said Heimsoth. “We have gotten a lot of experience doing things virtually, and God has blessed us.”