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FAITH & FAMILY — Local churches prepare for Holy Week, return to in-person services

Accommodations made by local churches are allowing congregations a chance to take part in Holy Week services in person or via live stream.

The days leading up to Easter Sunday are traditionally considered Holy Week by members of different denominations, including Catholics and Methodists, among others.

For Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and United Methodist Temple, both in Port Arthur, church members can take part in Holy Week worship services in person and through Facebook or live stream.

The Rev. Urbano Saenz stands near a display at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. (Mary Meaux/The News)

The Rev. Urbano Saenz with Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church said in-person worship requires a mask and social distancing inside the church, something he expects to see continue at least until the summer.

If the church becomes full, parishioners can go to the church hall, where a screen is set up for social distancing. Plus there is live stream via youtube.com/olgportarthur.

To prepare spiritually for Holy Week, Saenz and other priests in the diocese attend a Chrism Mass at St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica in Beaumont, which is officiated by Bishop David Toups, as well as confession.

Holy Week services for Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church

  • Holy Thursday, 6:30 p.m. Mass followed by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Hour
  • Good Friday, 10 a.m. individual reflection: Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross; Confessions from 10 a.m. to noon; Celebration of the Passion of the Lord with Holy Communion, 3 p.m.;
  • Holy Saturday, 8 p.m., solemn celebration of the resurrection of the Lord; Easter proclamation; Adult Communion/Confirmations
  • Easter Sunday, bilingual Mass at 9 and 11 a.m. No 5 p.m. Mass on Easter

    A wooden cross lay near the front of United Methodist Temple for congregants to write down prayer requests, sins, thanks and praises and nail to the cross. (Courtesy photo)

The Rev. Phil Chamberlin, lead pastor at United Methodist Temple, has the hybrid of in-person and virtual worship, something necessary in the current times.

The church never shut down during COVID but made modifications when members couldn’t meet in person.

There was drive-in worship where people would sit in their cars and listen to the service on the radio in the front parking lot. This was done for months until people were allowed back inside churches.

“We had to rethink everything we do, rethink how we do ministry in this age of pandemic,” Chamberlin said. “Nobody trains you in ministry or the seminary in what to do in the middle of a plague. There’s no playbook for that. We had to rewrite the playbook and ask God for ideas.”

The ministry evolved. When people needed food, the church responded. When school came back in session and children needed shoes, the church responded with “Soles for Souls,” he said.

Holy week services for United Methodist Temple:

  • Wednesday, 5:30 t 6:30 p.m., prayer. People can receive communion, pray and leave at will.
  • Friday, the pastor will upload a video to The Temple SETX on Facebook in which he will speak of the crucifixion of Jesus.
  • Saturday at 9 a.m. will be a large outdoor community event with pancake breakfast, egg hunt, pictures with the bunny, petting zoo, cotton candy and more.
  • Sunday, there will be contemporary services at 8:45 (socially distanced) and 10 a.m. (no mask required) and a traditional service at 11:15 a.m. Chamberlin will be preaching on all things new, he said.

Chamberlin and the congregation have been preparing spiritually for Holy Week and the death and resurrection of Jesus.

“We have been talking throughout Lent of how Jesus came to reverse the damage Adam’s sin caused. We focused a lot on that. For me, personally, I’ve been really looking at how the resurrection changes everything. The death took care of the past and the resurrection takes care of the future,” he said.

Symbolism of Christ’s death and sacrifice can be seen outside the church where a wooden cross lay near the front of the building and individuals are welcome to write down prayer requests, sins, thanks and praises.

Chamberlin said there is a hammer and other supplies next to the cross for those who want to take part.