By TIM KELLY
Anyone who is a part of the Ocean City community as a permanent member or a devoted visitor will tell you that Ocean City doesn’t do things halfway.
For example, when the challenge arose for Ocean City churches to keep their flocks connected in a virtual way during the most reverently observed week on the Christian calendar no less, church communities all over town rose to the occasion.
Online worship, live streams of events, even a “Minecraft” video game-inspired Easter egg hunt for youngsters and online Easter fashion parade appeared in response to Gov. Phil Murphy’s and church leaders’ stay-at-home order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
A prime example is St. Peter’s United Methodist Church. The historic house of worship at 501 East Eighth Street would normally be abuzz with activity, music and the voices of congregation members. Instead, all the buzz – and there is plenty – is through the parallel world of cyberspace.
“Never has being a church been so important, yet so difficult,” United Methodist Pastor Larry Oksten said. “We continue to worship, gather resources and provide assistance to the community.”
At St. Damien Parish, a similar can-do attitude prevailed. For years, the stirring Stations of the Cross re-enactment by the St. Damien Hispanic Community has been a Holy Week tradition, but in 2020, the critical social distancing element of fighting the virus made it impossible.
Disappointed but undaunted, the Parish posted a video of the 2019 Stations appears on the St. Damien Facebook page.
St. Peter’s and St. Damien are but two examples. A selection of online worship options appears below. Check with individual church websites for other virtual Easter events throughout Ocean City and environs:
- Online Easter Worship, St. Peter’s United Methodist: The church wraps up a complete Holy Week of virtual community worship with a 7 a.m. Sunrise Service on Sunday and Easter Celebration at 9 a.m. combining traditional and contemporary elements of observing Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Viewing options include Facebook Live or the church’s YouTube channel. They can be accessed at www.makingwaves.church. If selecting YouTube, which church officials said often has a sharper image, viewers are urged to subscribe to the St. Peter’s YouTube channel.
- Peter’s “Minecraft” Easter Egg Hunt: Brian Dunn built this site based on the wildly popular video game to depict Ocean City’s island and St. Peter’s itself. Currently available to St. Peter’s youth. Visit website listed above to register.
- Virtual Easter Parade Fashion Stroll Awards: Open to all, participants may compete in Best Dressed male and female categories, Best Bonnet, Best Dressed Teen male and female, Best Dressed Couple and Best Dressed Family. Participate by submitting Easter fashion photos to email@example.com by 1 p.m. Sunday. Miss Ocean City, Junior Miss Ocean City and Little Miss Ocean City will do the judging. They encourage creativity and making the most of being at home to submit imaginative entries.
- St. Damen Parish online worship schedule: Easter Sunday Vigil Mass at 8 p.m. access services via the Parish website www.stdamienparish.com
- Ocean City Baptist Church: Access the 9:30 a.m. worship service at YouTube page youtube.com/ocbaptist or the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ocbaptist.