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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

'From despair to hope': Marking 1 long year of worshipping remotely

It's been a long year of folks learning how to shift from in-person to remote everything. St. Paul Episcopal in downtown Des Moines is finally feeling some normalcy.

DES MOINES, Iowa — With Easter just around the corner, churches in Iowa are getting ready to welcome back more guests than they've seen in almost a year.

Cathedral Church of St. Paul Episcopal in downtown Des Moines just opened back to in-person services at the start of Lent.

Long-time choir member Laurie Theis recalls last year when the church stopped in-person services.

"We all felt very cut off," she said. "It has been difficult on so many levels for so many of us to worship remotely."

Theis, her fellow choir members and the congregation are slowly coming back.

"It's like a rebirth of hope for us, and the Easter season is all about going from despair into hope," Theis said.

The church is marking the occasion with a concert, of sorts, born out of the pandemic.

"I had this idea of, well, people can't come inside and churches shut down, they can come outside because we have something to gather around," said the church's choirmaster and organist Mark Babcock.

Babcock started musical performances Easter of 2020 on what's called a carillon— an instrument comprised of 25 bronze bells that sits atop the church's bell tower.

Now, more than 50 performances later Babcock is getting ready for another Easter performance.

"People needed some kind of connections during the pandemic that took away the mundane aspects of in the sadness of being isolated," he said.

The difference this Easter is that worshipers will be allowed inside.  The church is limiting attendance with an online registration form.  Their website also outlines its pandemic protocols.

All of those protocols are worth it for Theis who's called the church her family for more than 40 years.

"[We]re] so anxious to be back together," she said.

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