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Special to The Gazette

Messiah Lutheran Church is offering services on Sunday mornings at the Lyon County Fairgrounds as a way to worship while also practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The church also is collecting food donations for the Salvation Army Food Pantry.

For a number of years the church has worked with the Lyon County Fair Board and Emporia’s Radio Stations to offer a community Easter service at the fairgrounds. Messiah’s Church Council and Board of Elders decided to use that framework for worship on March 22, 29 and April 5. A second service on those same Sundays will be broadcast through Facebook Live.

“We know other churches have cancelled in-person services,” Messiah Pastor the Rev. Eddie Hosch said. “Some are offering virtual alternatives, but not all can. We invite anyone who wants to worship with us to join us.”

Services at the Lyon County Fairgrounds will be at 9 a.m. March 22, 29 and April 5. Those driving in can access a bulletin at messiahlutheran.org; there will be no paper bulletins. Guests will be directed where to park. Bathrooms at the fairgrounds will be closed.

“We need everyone to stay in their cars in order to show love and respect for everyone’s health and well-being,” Hosch said.

The service itself is aired on KVOE 1400 AM, which means it can be enjoyed by those in cars at the fairgrounds and others at home. Those attending at the fairgrounds are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items that the church will collect for the Salvation Army Food Pantry.

At 11 a.m. each of the three Sundays — March 22, 29 and April 5 — a service with contemporary worship music will be shared through Facebook Live on the church’s Facebook page: Messiah Lutheran Church Emporia.

“There will be five or so of us presenting the full service in an empty sanctuary,” Hosch explained. “The congregation will be anyone who wants to tune in from where they are.”

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