Toledo churches ready for EasterWritten by David Yonke Editor, ToledoFAVS.com | | David.Yonke@ReligionNews.com
“Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.”
— Watchman Nee, Chinese evangelist
The most important day on the Christian calendar is coming April 20, and Toledo-area churches are busy preparing for the occasion. The pivotal point in Christianity, hinges on Easter Sunday when Jesus’ followers celebrate his resurrection.
For many Christian denominations, prayer and fasting in preparation for Easter begins on Ash Wednesday and continues through the 40-day period of Lent. The seven days leading up to Easter are rich in ritual and spiritual intensity as churches hold services on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. This year the Eastern Orthodox observance of Pascha, or Easter, coincides with the Western church calendar.
“Palm Sunday, or the official title of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, is a kind of introduction to the celebration of the coming week,” said Monsignor Charles Singler, director of the Office of Divine Worship for the Toledo Catholic Diocese. “It is an introduction that provides a focus to the events that culminate at the end of the week with Easter.”
CedarCreek Church, the nondenominational Christian megachurch, expects up to 17,000 people to attend eight services scheduled at each of its four campuses, for a total of 32 Easter services. Ben Snyder, regional campus director, will preach the Easter sermons.
Lee Powell, senior pastor, said the church wants to make visitors who don’t normally attend church feel comfortable at the Easter services.
“There is a little less congregational participation and more watching of a spectacular event that communicates the death of Christ and his resurrection, and the significance of that,” Powell said. “We’re hypersensitive to people visiting with us for the first time. We don’t take anything away, but we consider them in planning our Easter services.”
The Rev. Chad Gilligan, lead pastor of Calvary Church in Maumee, is hoping for a combined 1,600 people at four Easter services in the former Maumee 18 movie theater. The church, at 1360 Conant St., is holding a Good Friday service at noon and three Easter morning services at 8:30, 10 and 11:30 a.m. In addition, Calvary will start streaming its services live on the Internet starting Easter Sunday.
“For us, Christmas and Easter are like the Super Bowl. They are a time of opportunity, for whatever reason, to see people’s lives touched by talking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Full Holy Week schedule
Toledo Catholic Diocese has a full schedule of Holy Week services at its mother church, Rosary Cathedral, 2535 Collingwood Blvd.
A Palm Sunday Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. April 13 with Monsignor William Kubacki presiding.
The distribution of palms on Palm Sunday, following the biblical account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21), is a tradition in many Christian denominations including Roman Catholic, United Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian churches.
Among the Holy Week traditions are foot-washing ceremonies held on Maundy Thursday, observed at most Catholic parishes and a number of Protestant churches including St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Toledo. Participants follow Jesus’ demonstration of servanthood when he washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:5).
A re-enactment of the Last Supper will be presented by four Toledo-area churches at 7 p.m. Thursday (April 17) when they will re-enact the Lord’s Supper in a presentation at the Ohio Theatre & Events Center, 3114 Lagrange St.
CityLight and Master’s House Church in Toledo, New Life Church in Petersburg, Mich., and River of Life Church in Dundee, will re-enact the Passover meal with Jesus and the disciples. The event is free, and any donations will go toward restoration of the historic Ohio Theatre.
“The cool thing is we are helping the community by helping the Ohio Theatre restoration get off the ground,” said the Rev. George Williams, pastor of CityLight. “The churches can help communities in a lot of ways, not just religious ways.”
The Church on Strayer Road, at 3000 Strayer Rd. in Maumee, is holding four Easter services — 7 p.m. April 18, 6 p.m. April 19, and 9 and 11 a.m. on Easter Sunday. The Rev. Tony Scott, senior pastor, said he plans to interview Jesus and ask him some of life’s big questions, including, “Is there only one way to heaven?,” “Did you have to die?,” “Was I born this way?” and “Why do we suffer?”
The Catholic diocese’s Holy Week services at Rosary Cathedral continue with a Chrism Mass at 11 a.m. April 15, when sacred oils used in all 124 parishes will be blessed. A solemn Tenebrae service that depicts the apostles’ desertion of Jesus will be held in Rosary Cathedral at 7 p.m. April 16.
Rosary Cathedral services continue with a Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7 p.m. April 17; a Good Friday prayer and meditation on the Stations of the Cross starting at noon; and a Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion at 1 p.m April 18. A blessing of Easter foods will be performed on Holy Saturday after the 9 a.m. prayer service, and an Easter Vigil Mass starts at 8:30 p.m. April 19. Easter Sunday Masses will be celebrated in the cathedral at 8 and 10 a.m.
David Yonke is the editor and community manager of Toledo Faith & Values (ToledoFAVS.com), a website that provides in-depth, nonsectarian news coverage of religion, faith and spirituality in the Toledo area.
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