A year later, Riverside Community Church is happy to be in person for Palm Sunday


PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Local churches welcomed people through their doors today for Palm Sunday, a different spectacle than last year. This year, the faithful met in person.

Palm Sunday is the day, according to most Christians, to kick off the holiest week of the year leading up to Easter Sunday. Roughly last year, Riverside Community Church switched its services to everyone online, according to Senior Pastor Michael Ritchason.

“A year ago, we had just put everything online, after about three to four weeks,” Ritchason said.

But this year, as things opened, Riverside Community Church reopened its doors to church members. Ritchason said preaching online in a completely virtual setting last year at Easter was tough.

“We’re important to the community here in Riverside and it’s hard to do it strictly online and just see people we haven’t seen in a while,” Ritchason said.

For services, members are seated in alternate rows and socially separated from other parties. The church also offers two different hours of service to help church members feel safe.

Riverside Community Church member Janice Pierson said she felt much safer in person at places like church service than she did last year.

“At the very beginning I thought it would take a few weeks, but as it progressed it looked like it might not happen again,” Pierson said.

Pierson said at first that she enjoyed watching online from her home, but eventually failed to pray in person.

“You miss that fellowship of being with other people,” Pierson said. “Although you can’t hug, just seeing their smiling faces through their eyes, it was just nice to be together.”

The church still offers all of its services online. For Easter next Sunday, April 4, Riverside is offering service at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.


Norma P. Rex