Would it be an exaggeration to say that Sunday, March 22, 2020 was one of the most unusual Sundays in the history of Christianity? I don’t think it would be, because on this day the majority of Christians across the world were either not permitted to gather to worship or considered it inadvisable to do so. Where on a typical Sunday Christians rise in their homes and soon gather for corporate worship, on this Sunday Christians rose in their homes and then stayed there—many to worship virtually through recorded or live-streamed services.
I was eager to document this unusual Sunday, so opened up my address book and got in touch with people all across the world to ask if they would record their experience by taking photographs. I received responses from more than 35 countries. The following galleries show how the world worshipped at home on one of the most unusual Sundays in all of church history. (Click on any thumbnails to see a larger image.)
The sun rose first over the Pacific and believers in Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia began to worship in their homes.
Choy family, Fiji
Posthuma family, Christchurch, New Zealand
Next up was Asia: China, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, and an expanse stretching all the way to India and Sri Lanka.
Anonymous families, Singapore
Yoon family (watching dad preach), Seoul, South Korea
Jesin family, Thiruvananthapuram, India
Throughout church history, there are very rare instances where the people of God did not gather together regularly. These moments represented specific, overarching cultural situations that made it advisable for people in groups of any size to not gather together. COVID-19 is another example of a culturally singular moment that necessitates the decision for Christians not to hold their weekly church services and to do so knowing that they are not being unfaithful to the commands of Christ. (R. Albert Mohler)
Eastern Europe & Africa
Most of the Middle East had worshipped from home on Friday, and much of Africa is not yet bound by restrictions. However, some Eastern African nations, and almost all Eastern European nations had to worship in their homes.
Reimer family, Kiev, Ukraine
Duro family, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
A small group meeting together, Moscow, Russia
And then came continental Europe, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. Most of West Africa continued to worship in church buildings, at least for another week.
Hardang family, Sandefjord, Norway
MacKenzie family, Geanies, Highlands of Scotland
Berg family, Tjällmo, Sweden
There are many elements that go into the total concept of fellowship, as it is described in the New Testament, but the sharing together in suffering is one of the most profitable. It probably unites our hearts together in Christ more than any other aspect of fellowship. (Jerry Bridges)
The sun crossed the Atlantic, touching first on the shores of South America. I had asked Nedelka, who translates my material into Spanish, if she would help me ask for pictures from Latin America. She came through in a big way…
Familia Vázquez Tamez, Monterrey Mexico
Familia Marmolejos, Santo Domingo, Republica Dominica
Canada & the United States
And around the same time, Canada and the United States answered the call to worship.
Challies family, Oakville, Ontario
Giesbrecht family, Cleveland, USA
Back to the Pacific
The sun continued its steady march, now beginning into the homestretch over the Pacific, where friends in Hawaii worshipped together.
Elliff Family, Honolulu, Hawaii
Christians in American Samoa, not yet under governmental restrictions and in the final time zone on earth, gathered as Grace & Peace Fellowship Bible Church, 23 hours after this worldwide chorus of worship had begun.
Grace & Peace Fellowship Bible Church
Then the sun set there, too, and finally brought to an end this unusual, unprecedented Sunday. All across the world Christians closed their eyes thankful they had the ability to worship alone, but hopeful they’d soon once again have the ability to worship together.
Our sorrows are all, like ourselves, mortal. There are no immortal sorrows for immortal souls. They come, but blessed be God, they also go. Like birds of the air, they fly over our heads. But they cannot make their abode in our souls. We suffer today, but we shall rejoice tomorrow. (Charles Spurgeon)