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Local ministers bring message of hope in uncertain times

The Easter message is clear from Miss-Lou pastors during this uncertain time of COVID-19: have hope and keep believing.

With Easter being the biggest day for churches, pastors are finding unique ways to communicate their message to their congregations with most Miss-Lou churches offering online video services.

St. Mary Basilica has stood in Natchez for 178 years. This Easter, the basilica will be empty with no congregation enjoying the Easter service.

For the past several weeks, St. Mary Basilica has stood empty with only pastors insdide sharing video messages with their congregation via Facebook and the church’s website.

The Rev. Scott Thomas and the Rev. Mark Shoffner and two to three other people will offer the Easter service to their congregation on Facebook, Thomas said.

“This is the perfect time for us to prepare for the general resurrection when Jesus returns at the end of time,” Thomas said. “I just want the congregation to keep the faith through this. It’s just another trial and it’s going to pass. Hopefully the virus is bringing families closer and helping everybody to trust more in Jesus and realize at the end of the day that Jesus Christ is the only thing that we need.”

The Rev. Melvin White, pastor of Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, said that in comparison to past Easter services, he plans to stray from his typical Easter message of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ for today’s service.

“We want to look beyond the Resurrection in that Christ has risen but now he’s coming back to judge the world,” White said. “My message is dealing with the time we’re dealing with right now. The important part is in order to know that with all that we are enduring and encountering with COVID-19 that if you have Christ in your life, then you have assurance that you are already covered. It’s imperative for those who don’t know Christ as their Savior.”

Bethel Church plans to hold its Easter service in a unique way.

The Rev. Troy Thomas will hold Bethel’s Easter service at 11 a.m. Sunday outside of El Ranchero restaurant at 1619 Carter St., Vidalia.

The Easter service will feature children singing, gospel dancers and Troy Thomas said he will have other people talk about the Resurrection of Christ.

“I believe that the message is going to bring encouragement and comfort for people that will come,” Thomas said.

The Rev. Bill Barksdale, senior pastor at Jefferson Street United Methodist Church, said he created a 30-minute video for his congregation to watch via email and Vimeo.

Barksdale said the video would feature photos and videos from his 2017 trip to the Holy Land, as well as additional photos from the internet to illustrate and help people feel as if they are there on Easter morning.

“The message will be an uplifting and joyous celebration of victory over death,” Barksdale said. “Using photos of the actual places where Jesus died and rose again will hopefully inspire hope and give comfort to all.”

The Rev. Birdon Mitchell Jr., pastor at Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, said his message for Easter will focus on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and having hope in Christ.

“If we have hope in Jesus Christ, then we can have hope in any situation that life brings us,” Mitchell said. “Just like He conquered death and the grave, then He can conquer our problems. Our hope will gain us eternal life.”