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How would one prepare for the Easter holiday?
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One way to prepare for Easter is to worry about what you are going to wear.

Another is to prepare for the many Easter egg hunts.

Still another is to worry about what you are going to have for Easter Sunday Dinner.

But the real challenge is how we prepare ourselves to receive the full impact of the hope and joy that Easter brings to those who believe.

While every Sunday is a “little Easter” on the church calendar, early Christians came together on the first day of the week as this was the day Jesus arose. And though we worship every week, the days immediately before Easter are vital in our preparation to receive the Good News of Easter again. We call these days, “Holy Week” as it is not any other week of the year.

For more than 30 years, several of the churches of Covington have been coming together to worship during Holy Week, the days between Palm Sunday and Easter. Billy Wade, the pastor at the First Presbyterian Church, says it was a tradition when he arrived — some three decades ago — to be the Pastor of the Presbyterian Church. There has been some change in which churches are a part of these services. No one seems to know the exact year that the services started.

Holy Week is again a time for a great Covington tradition. Five congregations come together to worship and offer the community a time to prepare for the Easter Celebration. Barriers that normally divide are reached over as denominational and racial lines are ignored. The common grounds of the Christian faith shared by all five congregations and a love for our community is more than enough to bring the congregations together.

Wade added that a real strength of the services is that they get us out of our own little worlds to see how we are a part of much larger body.

Each year the task of hosting the services is rotated among the congregations. This year is the Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal turn to host. The pastor of that congregation, Edwin Beckham spoke of being impressed by the sense of community that these services show. He said he has found Covington to have a strong sense of community especially among the churches. The host church is responsible for lunch each day following the noon services.

The Church of the Good Shepherd is located at 4140 Clark Street, across from the Clark Grove subdivision. The entire Covington community is invited to come to the services at noon each day, and to the lunch that follow in the Fellowship Hall. “Breaking bread together” has been a part of the church since it very beginning.

Each day will feature a different congregation with the “preacher” for the day and music coming from the featured congregation. This year’s schedule is for Monday to feature the First Baptist Church of Covington, Cody McNutt pastor: Tuesday the Grace United Methodist Church, George Lanier pastor; Wednesday, the First United Methodist Church of Covington, Doug Gilreath pastor; Thursday, the First Presbyterian Church of Covington, Billy Wade pastor; and on Friday, the host congregation Good Shepherd, Episcopal and its pastor, Edwin Beckham will be featured.

Here is your opportunity to experience what some of your neighbors experience on Sunday. I think you will discover we have much more in common than we may at first think. And each church adds to the strength of the Covington community.

Last year was my first Holy Week in Covington. I found these services to an opportunity to get a much broader view of our community. Sure that are issues that the various churches disagree on but these services remind us that is on the most important issues we stand on common ground.

Last year was George Lanier, at Grace United Methodist, first year in Covington as well. The way he described the services were they have a “family” atmosphere. Truly the church families of Covington do come together. He found a community coming together in worship. What a great way for George to conclude his first year of ministry in Covington.
Doug Gilreath, the pastor of First United Methodist, reflected on the six years he has been a part of these services. He found this same sense of unity. Gilreath said the services are always well attended. He said, there is strong support from the sponsoring churches as well as folks coming from other congregations.

I found a major part of that “family” atmosphere was the way the folks of Grace Church welcomed all who came. I am sure we will have the same experience at Good Shepherd this year. It is great to a part of building “bridges of understanding” in our community.

Easter is the most sacred of all days on the Christian calendar. I invite you to prepare for is full impact by attending these Holy Week Services. Enjoy worshiping and eating with your neighbors. And at the same time be blessed by the diversity of the Covington faith community.

B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington.