St. Stephens Episcopal Church on the corner of Woodruff Avenue and High Street. Credit: Ris Twigg | Former Assistant Photo Editor

Like everything from university classes to group fitness sessions, Easter service is going online this year.

Churches such as St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, H2O Church and the Holy Name Roman Catholic Church in Columbus, Ohio, are offering virtual services to keep the celebration alive for those observing the holiday.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. Mike DeWine banned mass gatherings March 22, with the exception of churches and other places of worship.

Despite the exemption, DeWine asked for places of worship to practice physical distancing and many churches have canceled all in-person services and activities and moved services online.

Holy Name Roman Catholic Church will host radio and livestream events of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday on its YouTube channel, according to the church’s website.

“This is the first time we’ve ever had to do something like this. It’s been hard trying to figure it out, but there is always a way,” the Rev. Antonio Carvalho at the Holy Name Roman Catholic Church said.

Carvalho said the church is following orders from the Columbus Catholic Diocese and Catholic Conference of Ohio to suspend in-person mass until May 3.

While some people might be spending their first Easter alone or away from family this year, Carvalho said the church is still there for the public, just in a different way.

The Rev. Karl Stevens at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church said he posts daily newsletters and updates for the parish. Though people cannot physically meet, Stevens said the online option allows users to view livestreams of services or watch recordings at any time.

“Since we can’t be around others, we are trying to offer as many options as possible. The well-being of our community is very important to us, therefore we have moved all of our Sunday sermons online for the time being,” Vivake Baranwal, leadership team member of H2O Church, said.

As the pandemic response guidelines change, each church’s website states it will continue to provide updates.

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church is located at 30 W. Woodruff Ave., H2O Church is located at 1385 Neil Ave. and the Holy Name Roman Catholic Church is located at 154 E. Patterson Ave. Each website is updated with links and times for streaming events.