TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – This is the first Easter in three years without widespread COVID-19 fears and restrictions.

Many pastors in the area have said that they had pre-pandemic attendance levels during Easter service.

St. Benedict Catholic Church Pastor Martin Day said that his church had a full crowd for its Easter service. Day said that it was one of the church’s biggest congregations since the pandemic began.

“It’s good to have a chance to celebrate Easter the way we normally would,” Day said. “It’s been a couple of years so it’s been a joy.”

Day explained that they’re still looking to regain its normal congregation. Churches across the county saw its membership decline once COVID-19 hit. Day suggested that they’re still missing about 20% of the usual congregation on a normal Sunday.

“I don’t know what the reasons are, but we’re still looking for a full congregation,” Day stated.

Rockville First United Methodist Church Pastor Jon Overbey said that they had a record attendance of 71 people for its Easter service. Similarly to St. Benedict in Terre Haute, Overbey said they’re still climbing out of the pandemic.

Overbey said they’re averaging about 40 people in the congregation which is below pre-pandemic numbers. However, he said that he’s optimistic by what he saw in during the Easter service.

“There were several people here today that I’ve never seen before,” Overbey explained. “I think that it’s having that kind of impact on people now that they’re trying to get back to normal.

Overbey suggested that congregation numbers could get back to normal in the coming months.

Pastor Day he said that his focus on Easter wasn’t necessarily the size of the congregation. He emphasized the importance the passing along the Easter message during the service.

“I’m happy to have them back, but it’s really the message that needs to be proclaimed,” Day said.