Religious groups across DC area welcome in-person worshipers for Easter, Passover and Ramadan

Sunday not only marked Easter, but people across the D.C. region also observed Passover and Ramadan.

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Religious groups say they are seeing a welcoming sight with many parishioners and congregants filling churches and temples for the first time since the pandemic began.

St. Mary Mother of God in Northwest D.C. started Easter celebrations last week on Holy Thursday.

It is not the first in-person Easter service in the pandemic, but it is the first without COVID-19 restrictions in place.

Patrick Lally, who is on the parish council for St. Mary said since Thursday their services have been standing room only.

"We had people in the aisles, we've had to put chairs up in the organ loft and it's been packed," Lally said. "There was a portion of today's mass where the sun was coming through the windows broken up by all the colors of the stain glass and it shunned against the incense coming up from the altar and it was the first time, I saw the church really return to normal."

Lally says in the earlier stages of the pandemic it was tough for many in the congregation especially during worship services around Easter since it centers around singing.

"When you're wearing a mask it's not really that comfortable to sing," Lally said. "Masks and social distancing while important to manage physical health during the pandemic, kind of adversely affect spiritual health in a congregational setting where closeness and singing are essentially part of public worship."

FOX 5 also spoke to Bishop Derek Grier with Grace Church in Dumfries.

He said the church has worshipped virtually nearly two years.

"Sunday to me was proof we are still a congregation, and that this terrible pandemic hasn't stopped us."

Bishop Grier said this is the first in-person Easter service since the pandemic began and there are members he hasn't seen in years.

"To see people today I did have a sense that most of us are rebounding," Grier said. "I do see in the eyes of some it's been a great strain these past few years. But when we come together, we pull for each other and with each other and that since of community today was actually palpable and it was just incredible for me."

Grier said there was about 1500 people in attendance Sunday.