With Easter approaching, Lloydminster churches are looking towards the internet to share their holiday services.

St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church started live streaming their services two weeks ago as more group restrictions were put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Youth Coordinator Tharin Fischer says it wasn’t what the church was prepared to do but they’ve found it as a new opportunity to grow and connect with their congregation.

“We have the privilege of the technology to livestream these things. So we are still going to have the same services we normally have. It’ll just be livestream with the people that are needed to be here.”

The church is open for personal prayer by appointment and is limiting them to certain amounts of people at certain times.

“Us as a staff are trying to be aware of that and monitor people coming in and if there are too many then we’ll just ask them to wait either outside or in their vehicle until space is available.”

A challenge for the church’s Easter service is that they cannot offer communion to receive the body and blood of Christ represented by bread and wine.

“We have something called the spiritual communion where there is a prayer while watching or listening to the mass. This prayer is saying God while I can’t physically receive you, I pray that you come into my life and be in my life at this moment.”

The church will be streaming their Easter services from Thursday to Sunday via Facebook and their website. Fischer says the church is considering continuing online services in the future. 

While St. Anthony’s is fairly new to providing their services online, Grace United Church has put up several videos of their gospel over the past year.

Rev. Cathy Kinsman says the technology aspect isn’t unusual for them but there are still some challenges.

“The whole idea of worshipping in an empty space and offering worship to an empty space is certainly a different format for us. We’re used to having a hundred and fifty people here in the sanctuary and to share a sermon with an empty room is quite different.”

Kinsman notes those watching the live streams have gone up considerably during the pandemic. Like St. Anthony’s, Grace United church goers will not be able to accept communion physically and it will be a more symbolic approach.

“I will be going through the offering of that sacrament and asking people to be with me in the holy moments that are offered as my hands break the bread and pour the wine.”

The church has been completely closed and only she and the office administrator are allowed inside. Despite that, the outreach program is continuing with the bags of groceries being left outside of the door for pickup.

“We’re all trying to do our best and work together in some difficult times.”

Grace United Church will be live streaming their Thursday service at 8 p.m. Friday and Sunday services will start at 10 a.m.