Sioux City, IA (ABC9 News) – Nearly 60% of Siouxlanders are affiliated with a religious congregation, and with that many believers some churches in the area saw larger than normal crowds on Easter.

At Redeemer Lutheran Church in Sioux City members had to add extra chairs, as close to 400 people attended the second Easter service. While the adults took communion to reflect on the meaning of Sunday’s celebration; younger worshippers gathered in front of the church pulpit for a special prayer from Pastor Russ Senstad. He says interacting with the congregation is one of his favorite parts of leading the Easter celebration.

“When I say Christ has risen and a strong voice comes back, ‘He has risen indeed, Hallelujah’, that’s really exciting. It kind of puts a tingle up your spine,” said Pastor Senstad, Redeemer Lutheran Church. 

While a few extra chairs fixed the over flow problem at the Redeemer Lutheran Church, some churches need a completely different venue for the occasion.

Over the past 3 years, Sunnybrook Community Church has hosted their Easter mass at the Sioux City Convention Center, and this year they welcomed one of their largest crowds to date.

“We had about 4,500 people; we added 400 chairs. We had 2,100 chairs set up for the first service, we had to add 400 chairs,” said Laurie VanCura, Pastor of Spiritual Formation & Creative Arts, SunnyBrook Community Church.

Visual and audio operators made sure the setting was just right as music set the tone for Sunday’s celebration.

As worshippers took in the Easter sermon, an artist illustrated the reason they all came together: drawing a picture of Jesus with the words “It is Finished” below his face. Church leaders say the live painting was simply another way of reaching out to the congregation.

“Many years ago we made a decision that what we did in our services was going to connect with people. Just ordinary people like you and me that maybe are far from God. There’s going to be music that they recognize, or at least the style of it, we’re going to use visual arts, and media because that’s what people pay attention too,” said VanCura.

Whether the sermon was relayed on a large screen to thousands, or simply echoed from a microphone to hundreds. The words shared the same meaning to those celebrating the special day.