Congregations eager for Easter worship

After a year of isolation and Zoom services, many churches are now welcoming back their congregations in person for Holy Week.

They had a big turnout for Good Friday, and are expecting even bigger numbers Easter Sunday.

At Bethel Church in San Jose, congregants gathered for Good Friday. Something many hadn't done in months.

"It's a miracle and a prayer come true," says Tim Ortel, a congregant from west San Jose.

It was a chance to see friends and to worship together.

"Just to see some kind of expression from people, not in a Zoom call and be able to celebrate a moment like this, something that's really crucial to our faith. It hits on a deeper level I would say," says congregant Noelia De La Cruz.

Bethel has taken a hybrid approach to Holy Week. Their largest presence is still online, but they also have drive-in services.

And they're offering indoor services too, socially distanced and with masks.

"I think that's given people a level of comfort. And there's nothing quite like being together in the building," says Frank Silverii, senior pastor of Bethel Church San Jose.

They're expecting a big turnout for Easter. So is the Diocese of San Jose. Some parishes are offering extra masses. Some are offering two masses simultaneously on different parts of their campus.

All are expecting people to register ahead of time.

Bishop Oscar Cantu says the isolation of this pandemic has left people craving togetherness.

"That affects us emotionally and it affects us spiritually as well. We need not only to connect directly with God, but we need to connect with each other as a community. And so I've seen a hunger for that," says Cantu.

The Diocese has been ramping up indoor services as the county and people's comfort allowed.

Bethel just resumed indoor services last week.

"As we come into Easter Sunday we've already got one Sunday under our belt and we're ready to go," says Silverii.

And the congregation is ready too.

"We didn't get to have church inside last year. But this year we finally get to get together, have community and celebrate Easter," says congregant Grace Dubuk.

Each church is handling things a bit differently so it pays to do your research and register ahead of time. And many are have online and outdoor options too.