The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 30, 2013

Churches putting on their Easter best



During the civic center years, the services grew in complexity and spectacle.

After the move to the new church on Howard Drive, people still expect that the staff and volunteers will “pull a rabbit out of the hat” on Easter Sunday, Willard said. But there’s also a strong desire for the traditional, and the dramatic opening segued directly into conventional Easter Sunday hymns such as “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today” and “Crown Him With Many Crowns.”

Everyone involved in the service said the goal is to strike a good balance.

Mike Pierson, a guitarist who leads one of the three teams of volunteer musicians who split Crossview’s musical duties between them, was piloting a hybrid band including members of all three teams for the Easter services. Working with Willard and Theilen, Pierson picked the music and the keys and the orchestration.

He was looking for something that was somewhat sensational but not hokey. Mainly, though, Pierson said he was aiming to make the music serve God and convey his message to the congregation.

“I hope they have a sense of celebration, but not only because it’s Easter,” he said. “... We can have this every day of our lives.”

Theilen, the interim pastor, said it’s not strategically wise to make Easter or Christmas services too extraordinary. Part of the hope of leaders of any church is that some of those CE Christians — who show up only at those two holiest days — will be inspired to return sooner. So Theilen doesn’t want a standard Sunday service to pale in comparison.

“We try to be conscious of that,” he said. “Certainly we give (Easter) extra attention, but we don’t want it to be so different.”

Still, Christians believe that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus makes salvation available to them. So Crossview volunteers gave the church a thorough pre-Easter spring cleaning, obsessed a bit over every aspect of the Easter services and enthusiastically welcomed the regulars and the occasionals when the doors opened.

And in the end, the nine musicians and the pastors, the sound man and the pair of video  people, the communications director and every other volunteer turned the service over to the amateurs — concluding with another well-known hymn that everybody could join in on: “My Savior, My God.”

“There’s nothing like having 700 people in a room singing at the top of their lungs,” Willard said.

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