Alaska. Unalakleet Evangelical Covenant Church. Snow covered church and streets at mid winter.

What if you need to cancel Lent, or Easter?!

Ash Wednesday is Feb 10.

Maundy Thursday is March 24.

Good Friday is March 25.

Easter is March 27.

What do these special days, when our churches gather for worship, have in common? During the 26 years I have lived in Pennsylvania, they have all come, at some time or another, with greater than eight inches of snow or ¼-inch of ice somewhere in the Eastern PA Conference.

There are times when it is simply not safe to try to gather for worship, even if it is on Easter or one of these other Holy Days. But the choirs, the children, the praise band and countless others have worked hard for months preparing for a grand celebration.

So what do you do when safety issues mean you simply must cancel one of these services? Have a back-up plan ready to go!

Do you normally video live-stream your services? Consider pre-recording a message and some public domain worship songs you can stream instead. Let others know you will have an online service so they can participate as well.

It’s important to gather as the whole congregation to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, and to do so as lavishly as we can. It’s also important that we honor the preparation many have put into a significant celebrations for Holy Week or Easter Sunday.

So rather than “cancelling” what was prepared, reschedule it. Do you have “snow dates” built into your schedule. Lent and Eastertide are seasons; so celebrate a week or two later if needed. If you need to cancel services, chances are others have also cancelled services. Could you celebrate joint services together at a later date?

Remember, if you must cancel a service, do not cancel Easter! Resurrect your plans and preparation on another day when everyone can gather and celebrate safely.

By the Rev. Greg Ellis
Eastern PA Conference Disaster Ministry Coordinator
gellis@epaumc.org