Church buildings were empty on Easter Sunday, but the church has never been confined to a building.
God’s people celebrated the resurrection in a million different locations. They watched sermons at home on televisions, laptops or phones with immediate family members or alone due to the threat of COVID-19.
Last week, Southeast Christian Church invited area pastors to record Easter sermons in a studio tucked behind the Sports & Fitness Center at Southeast Christian Church’s Blankenbaker Campus. The studio was set up with lights, microphones and cameras and staged with a couch to look like a living room.
“The beauty of this crisis is that we are experiencing the importance of unity and how deeply we need each other,” said Charlie Vittitow, who leads Southeast’s Missions Ministry.
Rene Manero, associate pastor at Iglesia Bautista: Senda de Luz, a Spanish-speaking church on Burnett Avenue in Louisville, planned to record his Easter sermon on his laptop, which would have been a challenge. He hadn’t intended to preach Easter Sunday, but Senior Pastor Yurian Santiesteban is recovering from heart surgery.
“I told him I’d do my best,” Manero said. “I was so nervous in the beginning, but the Southeast staff was so nice to help me.”
Pastors filed in throughout the day to record their sermons. All are partners of Southeast in their communities.
Missions Ministry Associate Bonnie Epperson often works with the pastors.
“Every one of these pastors strives to be Jesus in the community,” she said. “I’ve seen it through our partnerships with them. We love them and what they’re doing. Some don’t have the manpower and resources to record sermons for Easter Sunday. We wanted to bless them.”
Chad Goodlett is the pastor of Taylorsville Community Church, which meets at Spencer County Middle School. Recording his sermon at Southeast meant a lot.
“I’m not tech savvy, but on Easter Sunday, I want people to know that the same Jesus who conquered death and the grave is the same Jesus who is with us during this pandemic,” he said. “The key is to keep our eyes on Jesus, to trust His sovereignty. None of this caught Him by surprise. He’ll see us through to the other side.”
Goodlett believes God is working through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many churches were reluctant to go to online services,” he said. “But I believe record numbers of people are hearing the Gospel. Some of them might not have stepped into a church. My prayer is that after hearing the Gospel, they will want to be part of the body of Christ.”
Larry Coleman is the senior pastor of City Church International and leads the nonprofit Feed the City.
“Taping my sermon was a wonderful opportunity,” he said. “It was a God-moment—a time for us to unify and become one body.”
Coleman preached his Easter sermon on “66-40,” referring to 66 books of the Bible by 40 different authors.
“Each one was written to the body of Christ to bring us out of any crisis, any pandemic and everyday setbacks of life,” Coleman said. “It’s all we have to depend on. These 66 books give us the solutions and the encouragement we need. Since COVID-19, I’ve had to repent and rededicate my life, my ministry, my family, my motives back to the Lord.”
Coleman also recorded a video of encouragement for Feed the City, which serves hot meals to people in the community. Many were employed in the service industry and are now out of work.
Pastor Stephen Smith leads Portland Memorial Missionary Baptist Church and Mount Hermon Baptist Church. He began streaming services before COVID-19, but asked if he could use time in the studio to record videos to announce the new church app, which will launch soon.
“Using the studio was such a blessing,” Smith said. “I was so excited, I couldn’t hold back my emotions. God is opening another door. I’ve already asked if I can use it again.”
Smith said the challenges of COVID-19 give people time to draw closer to God.
“We’re in the middle of a crisis, and I know it’s stressful,” Smith said. “But we can spend our time on our knees, meditating on God. If we do, we’ll come out of this with stronger faith and a greater desire to do God’s will.”