LOMPOC, Calif. - With an influx of online viewers, Lompoc Foursquare Church is preparing for a busy Easter Sunday, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
"Normally Easter Sunday, we'll see anywhere between 1,600 and 1,900 people attend," said Senior Pastor Bernie Federmann of Lompoc Foursquare Church.
Holy week is looking very different this year under the shelter at home order.
"The church has left the building, but we're still the church," said Federmann.
The church is planning three Easter services like normal, but each is a little bit shorter and with familiar hymns. The lyrics for the hymns will be displayed on the wall in the background of their livestream.
Federmann said that he is still livestreaming from the church instead of his home because he wants to create a sense of normalcy for his parishioners.
"We're able to improvise and have people have elements at home for communion and we share communion online," he said. "We did that Good Friday as well."
The church has actually livestreamed services for 10 years, but viewership is at an all time high.
"We have doubled and tripled our numbers," said Federmann. "There are people from all over" the world watching.
Fortunately, the church switched over to an entirely new video and audio system for live-streaming the week before the shelter at home order went into effect.
Parishioners are also donating money weekly online, or mailing in checks.
Instead of other events, the church held a drive-thru Easter box giveaway for the kids, complete with an Easter bunny wearing a surgical mask.
The church gave away 600 boxes of easter candy.
Before the pandemic started, the church held a series called Hope in the Dark. Instead of taking the 'hope' banner down, they left it up so that it is visible during livestream services.
"People are saying every time they tune in, they get to see hope, which is the very thing that we need," said Federmann. "When you think about Easter, it really is about hope for the Christian."
His biggest message to those on Easter this year?
"Look for the presence of God and not his absence," said Federmann, particularly in the faces of our healthcare workers and neighbors.