Easter celebrations across the world were either cancelled completely or forced to switch online in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, and restrictions in place in 2021 meant services and events were very limited.
Now the churches are thrilled to be bringing people together again over Easter weekend, with congregations pulling out all the stops for the celebrations.
Reverend Paul Barker, Priest in Charge for the Benefice of The Boldons, said there was a ‘real mix of things things happening’ as churches prepared for Easter.
He said: “Holy Week and Easter is one of the most important times of the year for Christians. As we travel through Holy Week we experience the highs and lows of Jesus dying and the Good News of him coming back to life!
“We are delighted to be able to offer a range of opportunities for people to take part in Holy Week and Easter in our churches across the Boldons.
"Last year we were very limited in what we could do due to covid restrictions, and the year before we couldn’t meet together at all! So this year is extra special and a time for us all to come together and celebrate.”
To welcome in families, an Easter Messy Church will take place on Saturday, April 16, at St Nicholas’ Church in Hedworth Lane, Boldon Colliery, from 11.30am to 12.30pm.
The session will look at the story of Easter, with activities and crafts including making an Easter Garden, Easter baskets and colourful crosses.
"We will also be having an Easter egg hunt and an Easter party with food and games,” said Paul.
Parking is available over the road in the Hedworth Lane Primary School playground.
Before then, however, Easter events will begin with a quiet Maundy Thursday service at St George’s Church in Front Street, East Boldon, starting at 7.30pm.
Paul said: “Afterwards, all of the things that decorate our church and make it beautiful will be stripped out, as a reminder of the emptiness and desolation to come.“After the service there is an opportunity for quiet reflection. When Jesus went into the garden of Gethsemane he asked his disciples to stay and keep watch, and we do the same. I note that the disciples fell asleep - we'll try not to do that!”
On Good Friday, St Nicholas’ Church in Rectory Bank, West Boldon, will be open from 12noon for those who wish to and sit and pray and reflect.
The traditional Stations of the Cross will then begin at 1.30pm, with the Liturgy of Cross at 2pm.
Services will then return to St Nicholas in Boldon Colliery for Holy Saturday, where, after the fun of the Messy Church earlier in the day, a, Easter Vigil will take place at 8pm.
The service will begin as the sun sets, with the lighting of a fire and the church’s new Paschal Candle, and end outdoors in the churchyard.
There will then be Easter Sunday Eucharist services At St. Nicholas’ West Boldon, at 9.30am, and at 11am at St. George’s East Boldon.