Some churches return to sanctuary for Easter one year after shutdown

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One year later, some churches are finally heading back to the sanctuary for Easter Sunday.

Pastor Bill Adkins of Greater Imani Church is preparing his congregation to head back into the sanctuary.

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For the past year, churches have become a hub for food pantries, drive-thru clinics and COVID testing.

The greatest missing element was in-person worship; the one place many people turned to for motivation during a pandemic as they struggled to survive and get back to work.

Adkins said not having that in-person element played a role in people’s mental health.

“A hug becomes very important to a person. it means a lot to them. When you lose those hugs, you lose the contact, you lose the fellowship. it’s sickening, and it brings about a great case of depression,” he said.

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Adkins is going back to in-person worship Sunday for the first time in exactly 13 months because of a decrease in COVID-19 numbers and an increase in vaccinations throughout the county.

“To open these doors again will mean that church is alive again, that the spirit of God dwells in his house again and not outside the house; we’ve been evicted from our own sanctuaries by a pandemic.”

Adkins said cleaning crews used an electrostatic sprayer to clean the sanctuary, a sprayer that uses technology to thoroughly clean a surface and help kill coronavirus.

“Even though we’re going to be spread apart, even though we’re going to be distanced, we marked the church off, people will not be sitting on top of each other, just the fact that we can see each other’s face,” he said.

Adkins also told FOX13 something else that had a huge impact over the past year: he officiated about 40 funerals, which was a record. Many were related to coronavirus.

Normally he only officiates about 10 funerals a year.