(Washington Post) Americans return to in-person church with emotion — and uncertainty about the future of worship

Since about Easter, attendance numbers at Christ Central have been on an upward trajectory, said Senior Pastor Owen Lee — which is part of a national trend. Pew reported that the percentage of people who said they went to a religious service in the past month went from 33 percent in July 2020 to 42 percent in March.

Pre-pandemic, the large Centreville church had to have two services to fit in 700 or 800 people on Sundays. When the shutdown began, many tuned in to a live stream. In September, when the church began offering limited, socially distanced in-person worship, it got about 20 or 30 people at one service, Lee said. That number stayed about the same until around Easter.

Since then, the numbers have risen. Last Sunday, 140 people attended. This Sunday, 76 people spread out among the wooden pews, facing toward the high-ceilinged stage, where Lee and other clergy stood below two large screens across which words, song lyrics and scripture bits pass. Musicians and singers were spread to their right and left.

Easter, he said, was the first time the room began to look populated.

“To see faces, to hear people singing together, greeting each other awkwardly — it was so good to be together, like family,” Lee said. “Some people were weeping. It was one of the sweetest days.”

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture