We've compiled the top stories of the week. Here's what you need to know:
Christians marking Good Friday, Easter, unable to fellowship during pandemic
It’s considered the holiest weekend for Christians when churches usually expect larger-than-ever attendance. But this year, most Christians are marking Good Friday and Easter at home as the COVID-19 disease continues to spread globally.
“We are heading into the first digital Easter in the history of the church.” — Carey Nieuwhof, founding pastor of Connexus Church
Most churches are celebrating Easter solely online, with many hoping to spread the good news of Jesus’ resurrection during a time of isolation and uncertainty.
Meanwhile, the fight to be allowed to gather for church services continued, with Republican lawmakers in Kansas overturning the governor’s executive order restricting religious gatherings to 10 or fewer people, and a judge denying a Virginia man’s request to exempt religious services from the mass gathering ban.
Here are some Good Friday, Easter resources, broadcasts:
Good Friday service with Nick Hall, Max Lucado, others (Friday, 5 p.m. ET)
Kingdom Men Calling with Tony Evans (Friday, 8 p.m. CT)
Virtual stations of the cross, resources, church services online
Sight & Sound’s ‘Jesus’ production (Friday-Sunday on TBN)
Christian baker Jack Phillips back in court
Colorado baker Jack Phillips was back in court Thursday after a lawyer filed a second lawsuit against him for refusing to create a gender-transition "birthday cake."
The Denver District Court heard oral arguments as Alliance Defending Freedom, representing Phillips, asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed.
This comes two years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phillips, citing the First Amendment in allowing him to refuse to make a same-sex wedding cake.
Benjamin Watson, groups launch initiative to help churches at risk of closing
A new initiative called the Churches Helping Churches Challenge was launched this week to assist congregations in low-income communities in urban areas that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 economic shutdown.
With many churches unsure if they’ll make it through the pandemic as they remain closed during the lockdown, the initiative offers $3,000 grants to small churches.
“As the body of Christ, we all suffer when one suffers. Many churches won’t make it through this. As believers, it’s our honor and duty to support one another.” — Benjamin Watson, NFL player and spokesman for the initiative
Bernie Sanders ends presidential campaign
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday, leaving former Vice President Joe Biden to effectively become the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party.
Prominent Southern Baptist Albert Mohler noted that many in the liberal party have embraced Sanders’ ideas.
“When it comes to the battle of ideas in the Democratic Party, it isn’t Joe Biden who won, he doesn’t have that many ideas. It’s Bernie Sanders who is, if anything, a man of ideas.” — Mohler
More Christian leaders reflect on COVID-19
“I've never known a time in my life when people are more open [to the Gospel] than they are now. There are no other distractions. There's not football, there's no sport. There's no entertainment and people have time to hear the Gospel.” — Nicky Gumbel, Holy Trinity-Brompton Anglican Church in London
“There is an open door for us right now into the world with the Gospel like I have not seen in my lifetime.” — Greg Laurie, Harvest Christian Fellowship in California
“What a powerful time to repent … Please get right with the Lord.” — Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love
“This pandemic, this is a result of a fallen world, a world that has turned its back on God. So I would encourage people to pray and let’s ask God for help.” — Franklin Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Families of 50 Christians who were killed in Nigeria in March
‘Jesus’ by Sight & Sound (April 10-12 on TBN)
Strong: Devotions to Live a Powerful and Passionate Life by Lisa Bevere (March 24)
Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane C. Ortlund (April 7)