"Especially in the middle of coming out of last year," said Andrew Manness, the Asbury Church in Raleigh's pastor of students and services. "Things being canceled and us being shutdown, everything being on Zoom or livestream, plus being able to gather outside, is an awesome thing for us."
"We sing with the birds, read Scripture and her a word from the Lord," said lead pastor Jonathan Jeffries. He described the experience inside the church's amphitheater: "Every year for Easter we're out here, and through the pandemic we have a service at 8:30 every Sunday morning out here."
They welcomed many people who craved safe, socially distanced spiritual warmth on a chilly Easter morning.
"Especially in this season, with the pandemic," Jeffries said. "With everything going on in the world, challenges and trials of life through relationships, hardships, possibly financial. Challenges at work, challenges with life! Sickness, walking with loved ones who are going through difficult times."
They hope anyone who worshipped there for the first time on Easter will return to the church on Creedmoor Road on a future Sunday.
"We've kept it up even in the cold of winter, and will. It's been so successful, we'll continue," said Jeffries. "We hope they just experience the hope of our God."