Omaha-area churches prep for Easter holidays amid pandemic

New CDC guidelines on gatherings could change the way some Metro area churches come together the holiday.
Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 10:44 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As Easter fast approaches, new CDC guidelines on gatherings of people who’ve been fully vaccinated could change the way some Omaha-metro churches come together for the holiday.

6 News spoke with local church leaders Monday, who said it’s exciting to be moving towards bringing back more people but are remaining cautious. Perhaps, no one more than Father Keith Winton, of All Saints Episcopal Church in Omaha.

Fr. Winton is serving on the frontlines of the pandemic inside Nebraska Medicine’s COVID ICUs. Come the Easter holiday he’ll be welcoming back inside just a fraction of his congregation, making every effort to ensure everyone’s safety.

“One of the things we’ve done is block off pews so that there’s a safe distance between everyone here. We will also pre-place bulletins we’ve take out all the hymnals,” said Fr. Winton, noting these are only a couple of the many safety precautions being taken for this year’s holiday services.

“In our tradition, we use a common cup, but we will not be doing that for a little while still, so we have individual little tiny chalices,” said Fr. Winton. “And rather than having people coming to the kneeling bench, we will distribute them out just to prevent sort of the traffic and airflow.”

Between services, they will be disinfecting, with several services to be held outside, and more of them to help spread people out. “Right around this large Celtic cross here we’ll have our altar and our speakers here, we won’t have singing yet,” said Fr. Winton, making all these decisions with a certain weight.

As someone who’s been inside the COVID ICUs, he’s seen some of the worst of the pandemic. He’s held the hands of people dying from the virus.

“This is not something we take lightly,” said Father Winton, of the decision to start gathering more of the congregation. “Even today across the United States there are still one aver about 2000 people dying each day from COVID.”

With that in mind, they’re following the CDC’s guidelines every step of the way.

“With the new CDC announcements it seems the general consensus is -- and with vaccinations especially -- that we can start to gather again,” said Fr. Winton. “And so we’re starting to roll out the plans to do that in a loving and safe way.”

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