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Easter, Passover summon faithful to worship, celebration
As Roman Catholic and Protestant observances of Good Friday coincide with the first night of Jewish Passover celebrations, even occasional worshippers are noting the season. - photo by Mark A. Kellner
As Roman Catholic and Protestant observances of Good Friday coincide with the first night of Jewish Passover celebrations, even occasional worshippers are noting the season.

While Mother's Day may be the top draw for packing a church pew, as USA Today found out three years ago, LifeWay Research president Ed Stetzer predicts what some call a "super Sunday" for congregations this weekend. Writing at, he said, "Almost every church in the world will see an attendance spike this week."

This year, the Easter season coincides with the Jewish festival of Passover, something that, the Baltimore Sun noted, "happens about once every three or four years." Less common is the convergence of Good Friday and the start of Passover, something the Brockton, Massachusetts Enterprise says is taking place for "only the second time this century."

President Barack Obama said his family will observe both holy seasons. "Tonight, for the seventh year, Ill hold a Seder in the White House, and well join millions of Jewish families as we retell one of humanitys great stories of liberation," the president said Friday in an official statement. Separately, Obama said their family will also observe Good Friday and celebrate Easter.

"I look forward to continuing our celebration on Tuesday when I host our annual Easter prayer breakfast as we remember the teachings of Jesus in our daily lives, stand with those around the world who are persecuted for their faith, and pray for peace, justice and freedom for all people," Obama added.

While the White House has yet to release any information on whether or where the Obamas would attend church services on Easter Sunday, a survey by the Rasmussen Reports polling organization says only 46 percent of Americans plan to attend church this Easter, versus 54 percent who said they would in a 2014 survey. This contrasts with a USA Today report that 51 percent of Americans planned to head to church on the day.

Overall, the Gallup Organization found in 2013, four in 10 Americans attend church weekly, a number comparable to attendance rates in the 1940s and 1950s.

For those who make Easter their once-a-year church thing, a pastor in Temple Hills, Maryland, suggested there's a value in attending more often.

"There is also the spirituality that comes from being in community," Community of Hope AME church pastor Tony Lee told The Washington Post. "Thats about getting out of your silos, even if it is a silo with God, and being in fellowship with the person next to you," Lee told columnist Lonnae O'Neal, who confessed her own Easter-only habit.

For those worried about missing all Easter weekend offers, churches in the Eastern Orthodox tradition will offer another chance next weekend. That's because, noted, "Many Orthodox churches retained the Julian calendar after the Gregorian calendar was introduced in Europe in 1582. Therefore they often follow a different Easter date compared with many Western churches."

In southeastern Massachusetts, as in most communities, Passover observance is an individual gathering for families and groups of friends. For those who have nowhere else to go, the local Chabad Lubavitch branch will offer some aid, the Enterprise noted.

Local Rabbi Mendel Gurkow of Stoughtons Shaloh House Chabad said the group does not hold "a public seder," but finds invitations to private ones for the unattached, the newspaper said.
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