Apostolic Pentecostals celebrate Easter in field in the Johannesburg township of Soweto Sunday April 4, 2021. Such South African independent church consist of small groups of worshippers mixing African traditions and bible study. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

By Frances D’Emilio
The Associated Press

Christianity’s most joyous feast day was celebrated worldwide with the faithful spaced apart in pews and singing choruses of “Hallelujah” through face coverings on a second Easter Sunday marked by pandemic precautions.

From vast Roman Catholic cathedrals to Protestant churches, worshippers followed regulations on the coronavirus. 

Hundreds of Catholics gathered in the mammoth Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota, for the Easter Vigil service April 3. Every other pew was kept empty and masks were mandatory. Still, the solemn liturgy marked a new, hopeful beginning for the congregation after a turbulent year. 

After all-virtual Easter services last year, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City was at half-capacity for Sunday’s Mass. Worshippers spaced themselves out in the vaulted neo-Gothic cathedral, which can seat more than 2,000. The choir sang through masks. 

In Detroit, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church opened for in-person Easter services for the first time in more than a year, with capacity limits and social distancing rules in place. The Rev. Charles Christian Adams told the Detroit Free Press that people need church, especially after the congregation lost at least 14 members to COVID-19.

Tonee Carpio said physically being in St. Vincent de Paul Church in Austin, Texas, meant a lot to her after services last year were offered only online. She said being in church helps keep her Filipino culture alive in her city, since some prayers are offered in her native Tagalog.

“When you’re inside a church, you become more solemn, you can focus on God,” she said.

In Florida, Eastgate Christian Fellowship in Panama City Beach hosted its annual sunrise service on the beach. The church had to scrap the service last year because all beaches were closed. Pastor Janelle Green estimated that about 400 people participated.

Robin Fox of Palm Bay, planned to spend Sunday driving her mother to Orlando to get a second dose of vaccine at a Federal Emergency Management Agency walk-up site. 

“She’s getting that freedom on the same day that (people go to) church to celebrate Jesus being risen, so I said (to her), ‘it’s kind of like you’re being risen also,’” Fox said.