Grace Community Church celebrates Easter in Eisenhower Park

Guitarists sing joyfully to worshippers celebrating Easter Sunday, April 4, at Eisenhower Park. Photo by Andrew Ficke

Easter Sunday Services went off without a hitch this year at Grace Community Church of Seal Beach—but with special emphasis on the “Beach.”

While their yearly celebration of Easter had traditionally been held on their campus at Eighth and Central, improving yet still prevalent health issues meant an indoor gathering was not an option.

Amidst concerns over the capacity limitations of the church’s front lawn, it was clear that in-person Easter services would have to look different.

The church’s staff, along with an army of volunteers, showed up bright and early to Eisenhower Park on Sunday, quickly turning the grassy bluff into a place of worship.

Sound engineer and church elder Tom Stout supervised the operation, directing volunteers as they assembled a stage, sound equipment, and music gear into a full production set-up.

Others like custodians Tim Rameriez and Joey Wedmore helped assemble tables, floral arrangements, and tents, making multiple trips from the church’s campus to the park.

Despite the challenging logistics and pandemic woes, the church’s two services went off without any technical difficulties, starting on time at 9 and 10:30 a.m.

At least 450 congregants attended, along with many passersby stopping to listen; some even tuned in from nearby balconies and inside their cars.

All congregants were required to wear masks, and were encouraged to sit in groups consisting of family and close friends.

Worship was led by Justin Fox, currently the Pastor of Worship at Grace Community Church.

He was accompanied by, among others, Chris Howard, who led a song and prayer.

Howard, now a Pastor at Grace, is set to take over worship duties this month, as Fox prepares to return to his hometown in Humboldt county to plant a church.

Bob Wriedt, Senior Pastor at Grace Community Church, gave a hopeful message to the community, stressing the redemption and salvation found in Christ. Wriedt later commented on the unique nature of the service, noting the impact it had on many in the community:

“Since last Easter came at the beginning of the pandemic, we only hosted online services last year. That memory made the opportunity to gather in person so much more special this year.”

Despite the church’s move to online services throughout most of 2020, church membership and attendance increased, as the church’s staff and volunteers quickly adapted to the pandemic through weekly video productions.

But even with the increased attendance, Wriedt acknowledged that it wasn’t the same as gathering in person:

“With more and more people being vaccinated, Easter was the first time in a year many in our church came in person. It added a special aspect to the services to see so many people for the first time in person rather than on Zoom.”

As Grace prepares to continue outdoor services on their campus, it seemed to many—including Pastor Bob Wriedt—that this was an Easter that would be remembered for many years to come.

“While we’re looking forward to being back inside at Grace Seal Beach next year after this is all over, I think we’ll all look back finally at the year we celebrated Easter overlooking the ocean.”