Passion May Increase Easter Service Attendance

About 50 worshippers attended noon services on Monday, the first day of Holy Week. On Easter Sunday the pews will most likely be full, but afterwards old habits generally return knows Rev. Winston Goens, pastor of First United Methodist Church.

"History is that after Easter the crowds dwindle, but we always have hope they'll come back," said Goens.

A lot of that hope revolves around how the extremely popular movie, "Passion of the Christ" and how it has influenced viewers. Some have even confessed to crimes. Pastors are only wanting it to renew faith.

"We're expecting a larger attendance, but a deeper dedication to God," said Rev. Dennis Land, pastor of First Assembly of God.

Pastors could be tempted to envy the movie's success, but instead their capitalizing on it. A large billboard on South Street, placed there by Jubilee Christian Center reads, "You've seen the movie, now come hear the rest of the story."

Yet pastors know as a rule the test of faith is seldom one factor, but many.

"I think sometimes if a person is in a personal life crisis and then they experience something dramatic like this movie, then two things have come together. The hope is when we're wounded it will change us toward the good," said Rev. Judy Davis of Rock Spring Presbyterian Church.

So as pastors deliver Holy Week sermons and prepare their ever important Easter message they'll welcome all listeners no matter what may have prompted their visit.