Churches Close for Easter
as “reported” by Kent B. True
In a move that came as a surprise to some, one area church has decided to cancel services for Easter Sunday this year. While some expressed concern with the change, church leaders defended the move as Biblically correct and practically necessary.
Pastor Ben Right of The Church of What’s Happening Now refused to be interviewed about the matter, but earlier in the week spokeswoman Ima Chatterly issued statements to the press about her church’s decision.
“Easter is all about eggs, bunnies, and families,” she said. “Our focus has always been on families, although we have absolutely no objection to eggs or bunnies if families decide to use those” she added.
But Chatterly insisted that there were even more important reasons to cancel services at What’s Happening Now on Easter. “It requires approximately 17.8 church member volunteers to induce each unchurched individual to attend services here at What’s Happening Now,” said Chatterly, “and we decided that those dedicated people needed another Sunday to spend with family and friends.”
The Church of What’s Happening Now was one of the first in the nation to cancel services on Christmas Sunday, and Chatterly cited the great success of that idea as one factor in the Easter decision. “We noticed that after our Christmas Sunday break last year, only 12.3 volunteers were needed for several weeks to draw each unchurched person to our church. The volunteers seem to work a lot harder if you let them rest now and then. That made us realize just how important these Sunday sabbaticals can be for a healthy mega-church,” although Chatterly quickly added that they do not call their church a “mega-church.”
But in an unexpected move, Pastor Right addressed the canceled Easter controversy in his sermon last week. In his sermon, on a stage decorated with thousands of plastic Easter Eggs and flanked by all the members of his church’s “Advisory and Affirmation” Team dressed in Easter Bunny suits, Right made an emotional defense of his decision.
“The Advisory and Affirmation Team and I met, prayed, and cried over this decision for several hours this week,” said Right in his Thursday afternoon sermon last week, “and in the end we decided to make a stand in favor of families.” At one point, Pastor Right said, “Easter is for families. We don’t want ‘church’ to get in the way of that.”
But it wasn’t only about saving the family, according to Pastor Right.
“It’s not just an Easter thing,” said Right. “It’s a change I have been studying for some time now. In fact, as a result of this study, I was granted my D.M.A. (Doctor of Megachurch Administration) from the prestigious World Christian University.” W.C.U. grants this degree only to students who have completed its intense ten-month program.
Right told his mesmerized congregation, “I have been able to do some detailed New Testament study, which I don’t suggest you ordinary people should try at home. But what I found was that in first-century Judea, Sunday morning actually fell somewhere between what we call Thursday afternoon and Friday night. This follows from a careful consideration of time zones, calendar changes, church controversies, and the international date line. So beginning on Easter Sunday, our church will be observing the correct meeting time for the church, which is Friday evening.”
Right sees this as a way to make his church more Biblical. “Easter is really a pagan holiday,” Right explained in one of the less emotional moments in his sermon. “So if we can overcome all this societal Easter pressure, we can help make our church a less pagan place than it is right now.”
Later in his sermon, Pastor Right reminded his congregation that not only was Friday evening a time, indicated by Biblical studies, when the church should meet, but it also happened to be the church meeting time preferred by 8.6 of every 10 unchurched persons. “We want to be unchurched-person sensitive,” said Right, “and you can’t do that if your church insists on meeting at times the unchurched find inconvenient.”
Right hinted that some who disagree with his Easter cancellation policy might be a little jealous. “It’s hard to argue with success. In fact, you shouldn’t even try.” Right said. “People at smaller churches shouldn’t be wasting their time disagreeing with us. Instead, they should be trying to become more like us,” Right insisted.
Right’s sermon at What’s Happening Now was interrupted several times with lengthy standing ovations punctuated with cheers and whistles from the thousands of unchurched who were present. After the sermon, many of the unchurched present at What’s Happening Now offered their support for Pastor Right’s decision.
“I’m an atheist,” said Patti Pettibrain, “but I love What’s Happening Now, I love Pastor Right, and I’m a regular here.” She added with tears in her eyes, “I don’t know why all the mean people around town are attacking Pastor Right. After all, he can’t be wrong when his name is Right.”
One of the elders of What’s Happening Now, twenty-three-year-old I. B. Yesmann, told this reporter, “Church isn’t about days of the week. Our church’s critics are, like, way too worried about Sunday. Friday is just as much one of the Lord’s days as Sunday, isn’t it?”
While it is not clear if other churches will follow the lead of What’s Happening Now, it is clear that the Easter controversy will probably affect churches around the country. One What’s Happening Now member, who asked not to be identified, said, “Some churches are just stuck in the past. But we are, just like our name says, ‘What’s Happening Now.’ God’s always doing new things, and we are the latest and greatest.”