In many ways, COVID-19 has been a burden on churches. But it has also been a positive, especially in the way it has forced churches to find creative ways to continue vital ministry and mission while complying with safety guidelines.
Brown Swamp United Methodist Church in Conway benefited from COVID because it forced them to reimagine their children’s Easter event.
“We have always done an egg hunt for our church and community families,” said the Rev. Ann Kovan, Brown Swamp pastor. “Rather than do nothing at all, we prayed for a creative solution. God has made us in God’s own image, and God is the ultimate Creator, so that image in us includes imagination and creative thought. We believed passing on the Easter story to the community children was crucial and that we could find a creative way to accomplish it.”
Reflecting on what worked well for children’s ministries in the past year, Kovan realized that the trunk or treat model they used in the fall could carry over to an Easter event.
“Our fall parking lot event ‘Trunk or Treat’ followed all the guidelines and was a big success, so we thought, ‘What if we could create an Easter event using that same model? Could we have an Easter event in our parking lot using decorated cars to tell the Easter story?’”
With that, the Easter “Stop and Hop” idea was hatched. Parents could simply park (“stop”) and kids could “hop” from station to station learning the Easter story and collecting goodies along the way.
“We wanted a path of stations in the same model as stations of the cross, but for kids,” Kovan said. “So we decided to use Resurrection Eggs as our blueprint.”
The event consisted of six stations: Triumphal Entry, Last Supper, Christ’s Suffering, the Cross/Crucifixion, the Empty Tomb and the Jellybean Prayer—the latter where kids not only received a goodie bag with jellybeans but could guess the number of jellybeans in a jar.
There was also a point of entry with the Easter Bunny spacing out the families and handing out bags for any children that didn’t have their own. Each station was decorated and staffed by a person in costume. The children were able to pause at each station to hear a brief teaching and take an egg filled with a symbol for that station along with some treats for their bags.
“The event was a success. I think this will replace the traditional egg hunt moving forward,” Kovan said. “It elevates the Easter Story as the main event, rather than a side note, while still keeping children of all ages engaged and their baskets full. The unforeseen blessing was that it wasn’t just the kids learning the story, but also the parents and guardians accompanying them.”
A few days before the scheduled event, the weather forecast changed to rain, forcing the event inside.
“We moved it into our courtyard, which is one of the most impressive features of our facility. There was plenty of room to space the stations out with a one-direction path,” Kovan said.
In the end, she said, God made the event even better than what they imagined on their own.