An increasing number of local churches are focusing more attention on educating people about the life and death of Christ than celebrating his resurrection with Easter egg hunts and offering goodies from the Easter Bunny.
Shanna Weekes, Sunday school teacher with The Church of God, Southside, said, “We really enjoy ministering to the children who attend our local church and look forward to every opportunity to encourage them to learn, live and celebrate God’s Word through various activities.
“For Resurrection Sunday last year, we hosted a scavenger hunt outdoors, during which the children hunted picture clues strategically placed throughout the church grounds. This idea was birthed out of the need to have something specifically for the children that was fun, but also effective in teaching the true message behind Resurrection Sunday,” Weekes said.
“Although we could have just as easily conducted an Easter egg hunt, the common sentiment was that there needed to be a clear connection between the message of Jesus’ resurrection and the activity that would leave a lasting impression in their hearts. We never want to take for granted that every child has already been taught what the Bible says about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
In an effort to try something a little different this year, Weekes said it was decided that there will be a special time of crafts during normal children’s church hour this Sunday morning.
“One of our children’s church workers, Christine Hewitt, found two age-appropriate crafts perfect for remembering what this special day is all about,” Weekes said. “One of them is a keychain, which has plastic laces of various colors that can be woven or tied into a cord and then connected to a key ring with a small wooden cross attached. This one will be for our older children,” she added.
“The other activity, for our younger participants, is a puzzle that they can color, and then take apart and put together to their heart’s content. Although a craft is a simple activity, and something we could certainly do anytime throughout the year, it is also a chance to minister one-on-one to each child and guide their God-given creativity to make a personal reminder of what Jesus did for them at Calvary.”
The Church at Grace Point also sponsored a “spring break mission project” for students in the week prior to Easter.
“It’s not just a one Sunday thing,” Clark said, “We’re doing this to be a part of the community.”
Approximately 30 students from Grace Point joined teams from Clingan Ridge Baptist Church, North Cleveland Baptist Church and Candies Creek Baptist Church to prepare for Easter by completing different service projects around the area.
The students, as well as the adult volunteers who organized and chaperoned the events helped beautify school grounds for upcoming events, visited nursing homes, and helped with maintenance projects in the church buildings.
In total, over a hundred students from the various churches participated in the projects planned throughout the week, according to Clark.
First Baptist Church Cleveland presented a 45-minute musical depicting Jesus’ final week on Earth. The production, presented on March 30 and 31, involved a 145-voice choir, 30-piece orchestra and rhythm band, drama, dancers, media, lighting and other special effects.
“My work at First Baptist Church Cleveland would not be possible without volunteers,” said Tyler Brinson, minister of music and worship at First Baptist Church Cleveland. “I’m pretty certain most, if not all, ministers could vouch for me here.”
Preparation for the Easter musical began in January, just two weeks after the church’s major Christmas production ended, Brinson said. He estimates more than 300 people volunteer to help with the production, including choir members, orchestra and band members, sound, video, lighting, dancers, stage hands, ushers, and greeters, among others.
Choir member Khristina O’Connor has been singing in the First Baptist choir since 2010 and has participated in every Easter musical Brinson has directed.
“It’s a pretty intense commitment,” O’Connor said. “Orchestra members rehearse one hour per week, choir members rehearse one to two hours per week, and the rhythm band rehearses about one to two hours per week.”
O’Connor added that choir members on the praise and worship team typically rehearse an extra two hours and that if new music is involved, Saturday rehearsals are also not uncommon.
Despite the hefty time commitment, this graduate student who is writing her thesis this semester and also works full-time does not find her commitment to be a burden.
“I don’t feel like being involved in the Easter program has been too much of a challenge. It is what it is — a time commitment and an opportunity to lead worship,” O’Connor said.
Marcia Clement, a fellow choir member at First Baptist who is in her third year of participating in the Easter musical, agreed with O’Connor that the time commitment is worth the end result.
“All the words we have been rehearsing in song are a message we want to convey, not just a song,” Clement said, reflecting that the preparation for Easter is as spiritual as it is musical.
“If no one showed up, we would be forever blessed for having sung those words and scripture over and over again because of the way it changes us.”
O’Connor said the best part of being a volunteer in the Easter musical at First Baptist is participating in the “cardboard testimonies” in which members of the choir share what God has done for them by writing it on cardboard and presenting it during a worship song.
“I am grateful to be a part of this avenue to share what Christ did for me,” O’Connor said.