Digital Easter for Christians around the world

Joachim Giesler, priest at the Parish Church of our Lady, asked his parishioners to send in photos of themselves to paste on the pews in their absence during the lockdown.(Photo: Reuters)

In an unprecedented Easter Sunday, millions of Christians worldwide are marking the holy day by tuning in to digital church services from their homes. 

Coronavirus has forced large parts of the world into lockdown, including India and much of Europe. 

Despite the importance of Easter Sunday in the Christian calendar, churches in the UK are shuttered, even for private prayer. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury is to lead the Church of England's first ever nationwide virtual Easter Sunday service at 9am, in which he will speak about hope in the "dark days" of the coronavirus pandemic. 

"So many people right across the country are anxious about employment, food, are isolated from loved ones and feel that the future looks dark. People right across the globe feel the same uncertainty, fear, despair and isolation. But you are not alone," he will say.

"In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have a hope that is surer than stone; than any architecture," he will say. "Even in the dark days of this Easter we can feed on hope. We can dream of what our country and our world will look like after the pandemic."

There are other digital initiatives taking place to mark the occasion, too, with the Methodist Church hosting an Easter Sunday 'Sing-A-Long' live on Facebook and YouTube at 4pm.  It will be joined by the National Methodist Choir GB and members of All We Can, the Church's humanitarian ministry.

Easter Sunday services are to be broadcast live from Wesley's Chapel in London via YouTube, with a Service of Holy Communion at 9:45am, Morning Worship from 11:00am to 12:15pm, and an International Prayer Service in the Taize style from 7:00pm to 8:00pm. 

The worldwide Anglican Communion has coordinated a social media campaign using the hashtag #GlobalSonRise social media campaign.  Easter video messages have been shared from many parts of the world, while on Sunday morning, Anglicans were being asked to tweet "Christ is Risen" at 5am in their local time zones.

Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) General Secretary Lynn Green will lead a national prayer broadcast on Easter Sunday with special guests Nick and Marjorie Allan, from The Well in Sheffield, at 7pm. Baptist minister Andy Goodliff has also produced a series of Easter reflections for the BUGB.  

The coronavirus lockdown has forced churches around the world to be creative in how they continue to worship. 

In Achern, Germany, one pastor asked members of his congregation to send him pictures of themselves.  Joachim Giesler, priest at the Parish Church of our Lady, has attached these pictures to the pews as a powerful reminder of parishioners in their absence during the lockdown.