By Neva Rae Fox

Traditional Holy Week services were greatly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. With mandatory closing of church buildings, many congregations turned to the Zoom, Facebook, videos, podcasts, YouTube, and digital means to offer creative and inspiring ways to connect with the spiritual themes of this important time. Others, however, opted to take the Stations of the Cross to the streets, sans technology or internet.

In Rixeyville, Virginia, Native American artwork dotted the landscape with outdoor Stations. The Rev. Stacy Williams-Duncan, rector of Little Fork Episcopal Church, said the actions were motivated by the pandemic but have had a far-reaching effect.

“The artwork has been very positively received and we have had people who have never visited the church grounds before come out to see them,” Williams-Duncan reported. “We are a remote rural church, so this alone is an evangelism success for us. We have had people respond on our Facebook page that are not members of the church, and our parishioners have reported hearing people talk about this project in their friend groups.”

Designed by Choctaw artist Melonie Twelves, the images were placed so they could be easily viewed from cars and spaced far enough apart to respect today’s social distancing.

At Grace Church in St. Francisville, Louisiana, self-directed stations became a neighborhood experience and were enhanced with supplementary materials. Meg Kendrick, the parish administrator, explained, “I made booklets, we had maps made, and then did a sign for each station. We had neighbors around our church who offered to have their home be a station, so it was put on the outside of their fence. It started outside our church and ended outside the Methodist Church.”

Another neighborhood stations, this one in Jacksonville, FL, were specifically designed for all to join. Deeming it Outside-the-Church, “We wanted to provide a safe alternative for people to participate in this devotion with their families,” said the Rev. Tom Murray, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in the city’s Ortega neighborhood.

Inspiration for this Holy Week activity, according to Murray, came from parishioners who saw families participate in neighborhood scavenger hunts during the stay-at-home order.