VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. -- Christians around the globe celebrated Pentecost Sunday yesterday. For thousands of churches in America, it was a day to worship together for the first time in months.
There's a reason they chose the birthday of the church to open up their doors.
At the New Life Christian Church in Virginia Beach, Christians gathered together for the first time in several months.
They followed strict safety measures including masks on during the service and sitting several feet apart. But those restrictions didn't dampen the excitement of finally being back together.
"Oh, it feels so good," said church member Carol Watts. I could have just cried, you know, just to be able to come to church. Oh, it's such a peace."
CBN News asked church member Anna Hubbs what did she miss the most?
"Worship," she replied. "Worship here is awesome. It's just like an explosion of the spirit, nothing like it."
Ministering online since mid-March, long-time New Life Pastor Dan Backens was happy to see his congregation in the flesh.
"Just to have a room of people worshipping God and praying," Backens said. "The energy was there. The Holy Spirit was there. It was like this is what I was meant to do. Preaching to a camera has its purpose and I thank God for it. But there's nothing like preaching to the constituted local body of Christ. You know them. You love them. They love you. It was dynamic.
Backens told CBN News it's not a coincidence they re-opened on Pentecost Sunday.
"It's like the birth of the church on Pentecost 2,000 years ago and it's like the re-birth of our local church on that very same day. So that's more than a coincidence. We kind of see it as a profound blessing of God like I'm with you in a special way," he explained.
Meanwhile across town at the Kingdom Cathedral, Bishop Michael Rogers was not quite ready to open. But that didn't stop members from having Pentecost praise in the church's parking lot
"But God says today, the church has left the building," Rogers preached outside as members listened from the safety of their cars.
The bishop said a couple of things influenced his decision to stay closed. The congregation is older, plus the fact that he lost many pastor friends in New York to the illness.
"I think that we have to be careful of rushing," he told CBN News. "Scripture says in your patience you possess your soul."
He's hopeful COVID -19 will go as quickly as it came.
"So I really believe when the body of Christ experiences true unity," Rogers said. "We're going to have a sudden move of God and I believe just like this pandemic came, it will suddenly go away."
Although crowds were light and masks on, many were thankful just to be together.
"I didn't even think about the fact that I had a mask on, I was just so engrossed in the service that I forgot the mask, said New Life member Bonita Brown. "It was truly awesome."
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