OAKLAND (KPIX) — It was a different kind of resurrection for parishioners of Oakland’s largest church who returned on Easter Sunday for indoor services for the first time since the pandemic began.
“We’re not only celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead but also celebrating the churches from being dead because we’ve been dead for a little over one year now … It was March 8 of 2020 that we closed the doors,” said Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts Full Gospel Church.READ MORE: UPDATE: Investigation Finds San Leandro Officers Didn't Follow Use of Force, Taser Policies in Fatal Walmart Shooting
Bishop Jackson said it was fitting to reopen on Resurrection Sunday. There were a lot of guidelines in place: temperature checks, six-foot distancing, face coverings and no hugs.
“That was really hard not to hug and kiss on people, cause we’re hugging, kissing (type) people, you know?” said parishioner Tanya Comminey.
“You give that eye contact and, from there … a little bump from the elbow,” parishioner Portia Boatner explained.
Acts Full Gospel has 4,000 seats. There was plenty of room for social distancing. About 400 people attended the 8 a.m. service and 450 attended the noon service. Many said they were already fully vaccinated.
“I’m so thankful, I’m going to shout! I’m going to give God the glory,” said parishioner Sherry Vance.READ MORE: Bouncing Back? New Unemployment Claims In California Down Drastically
“I was like a little kid this morning, you know, like Christmas,” Comminey said. “I just couldn’t wait to get here.”
Parishioner Jacqueline Oriabure said she missed the singing, the dancing and the praying. She said she had waited a long time to get back to in-person worship.
“Like I was caged in a box and now I can come out of that box and just celebrate Jesus,” Oriabure said. “I’m just so grateful that I am here and I get to see all these faces that I haven’t seen in maybe over a year or so.”
Many parishioners said they relied on their faith during a year of extreme hardship. Some dealt with depression and isolation.
“I had my days because I stayed by myself. I was just hard ’cause I couldn’t have people over and I really had to lean more to God,” said parishioner Ingrid Clark.
While the church was closed, Acts Full Gospel distributed food to struggling families and teamed up with the city to provide free COVID-19 tests and vaccinations.MORE NEWS: San Jose Launches 'SJ Aspires' College Tuition Assistance Program For 700 Students
Bishop Jackson said it will still be a while, likely months, before everyone feels safe enough to return to indoor church services.