Come Sunday morning, instead of bundling up and making the annual trek to Marsing’s Lizard Butte before sunrise, the roughly 1,500 people who normally mark this Easter tradition will likely be at home, tuning in through a computer screen instead.
The more than 80-year-old tradition, which brings people together from multiple churches, has been canceled this year, along with religious gatherings worldwide amid the coronavirus outbreak.
But congregants are still finding alternative ways to connect and celebrate. Bill O’Connor, pastor of the Marsing Church of the Nazarene and member of the Lizard Butte Easter Association, which normally puts on the Easter sunrise service, said he and his wife are working to ensure his community members feel safe and connected through this time. They send out a weekly letter and cellphone updates to any members unable to connect via the internet.
“We are looking forward to the day that this is all behind us and we can celebrate and meet together once again,” O’Connor said.
Churches across the Treasure Valley are livestreaming Sunday services to adhere to Gov. Brad Little’s stay-home order, which prohibits gatherings.
Gene Fadness, communications director of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise, said Catholic churches are attempting to keep the community as close-knit as possible by offering livestream masses and connecting members without internet to televised masses.
“We are hoping to postpone important Easter activities … until Pentecost Sunday, which is about 50 days after Easter,” Fadness said.
Priests are also attempting to provide sacraments, such as anointing of the sick, if it falls within reason of the stay-at-home order.
“We are trying as much as possible to meet people’s needs who are in urgent situations, but if it is not an urgent situation we are encouraging them to be patient,” Fadness said.