BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
For many Christians, Easter is the most significant holiday of the year and, for many churches, annual observances include a Good Friday service, a Saturday Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday services.
This year, however, churches in Greeneville's Historic District are planning around a whole new event -- a unique preview of The Band Perry's second album, "Pioneer."
The sibling trio announced two weeks ago plans to hold a free concert on Greeneville's North Main Street to recognize their hometown and introduce the much-anticipated CD.
Presented by the Greene County Partnership and sponsored by General Mills, the concert will be at 6 p.m., Saturday, followed by an autograph session.
Radio stations across the nation and even Country Music Television network (CMT) are broadcasting that Greeneville will host this award-winning band at no cost to concert-goers.
Estimates of the anticipated attendance vary widely, but all agree there will likely be thousands of people.
The Town of Greeneville is making plans to block off downtown streets as soon as possible after 5 p.m. Friday, including Main Street from Spencer Street to Summer Street and portions of Depot and Church streets.
In response, some downtown churches are rescheduling events and getting the word out to members about changes and new plans.
The following is a list of downtown churches and their Easter weekend plans:
* First Baptist Church, at 211 N. Main St., will have regularly scheduled services Sunday at 8 and 10:30 a.m., in addition to leading the Community Sunrise Service at Oak Grove Cemetery.
According to Pastor David Green, First Baptist has not had to make any changes due to the concert.
"I'm personally thrilled that The Band Perry's doing what they're doing," Green said. "It's not going to hurt us in any way or affect our programming in any way."
Parking at the church will be free, he said. The church's lot has been set aside by the Greeneville Police Department and the Greene County Partnership for handicapped parking.
"We're just glad to be a good neighbor in all of this and have fun with the rest of the town," Green said.
* Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church, at 201 N. Main St., has had "quite a bit" of extra planning to do in preparation for a 7:30 p.m. Good Friday joint service with First Presbyterian Church.
"For us, it's a matter of timing and preparation time," said the Rev. Jamie Lively.
Members will need to prepare the church for Easter Sunday earlier than normal, and traffic for the Good Friday service will now need to be routed through Irish and Church Streets, Rev. Lively said.
In addition, members will be checking the grounds following Saturday's concert to make sure everything is in order for Sunday, he said.
Sunday services will then occur as normally scheduled at 8:15 and 10:30 a.m.
"Certainly it's inconvenient, and a different weekend would have been better," Lively said.
Nonetheless, he said, the church plans to treat this as an opportunity, and will have a banner with worship times in the church parking lot.
"Our plans are to be as welcoming and hospitable as we can. We're going to do that by not charging for our lot or anybody standing or using our space," he said.
"We certainly understand that this is an opportunity for the city of Greeneville," Rev. Lively said. "We're glad The Band Perry thinks about its hometown and doesn't try to put where it comes from in the rearview mirror.
"That's a plus for the town and all of us who live here."
* First Presbyterian Church, at 110 N. Main St., will share Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church's Good Friday service, as well as hold a Great Vigil of Easter Service at 10 p.m. on Saturday.
This is an hour later than normal as a result of the concert, according to Rev. Dr. Dan Donaldson.
"Hopefully that will be okay," he said, noting that police have assured him members will have access to the church.
The church will also sell concessions to benefit the youth and missions projects, Donaldson said.
Members will aid in cleanup around the church in preparation for regularly-scheduled Sunday morning services at 8:30 and 10:45 a.m.
* Calvary Chapel Greeneville, at 401 W. Main St., did not anticipate any changes when interviewed earlier this week, but did not have full details available at that time.
* Reformation Lutheran Church, at 400 W. Main St., will hold Good Friday services at 7 p.m., and Sunday services at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
* Christ United Methodist Church, at 307 S. Main St., will be directing members into their lot from College Street for their Good Friday Tenebrae Service at 7 p.m. today.
Parking in this lot will be blocked off until after the Friday service, said the Rev. Ginger Isom.
"I'm anticipating people coming in Friday and camping out," she said. "Honestly, I don't know what to expect."
Rev. Isom said that she will leave the parking lot open for concert-goers on Saturday, but plans to block off the empty grass lot beside the church to prevent parking that may damage the ground.
Sunday morning services will take place on a normal schedule at 10:30 a.m.
* Asbury United Methodist Church, at 201 S. Main St., will hold Good Friday service as scheduled at 7 p.m., but has bumped up the time for their Easter egg hunt to 10 a.m., Saturday.
The church's parking lot will be open to concert-goers after 1 p.m., Saturday.
Sunday services will also remain as scheduled, with an Easter Vigil at 6:30 a.m., Service of Light at 6:45 a.m., and regularly scheduled worship services at 8, 10 and 11 a.m.
* Central Christian Church, at 118 W. Summer St., will not have any changes to services, which will take place as regularly scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
* St. James Episcopal Church, at 105-107 W. Church St., will hold a Good Friday service at noon, and has rescheduled the church's Saturday service.
The Great Vigil of Easter will now take place at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, instead of after sundown on Saturday.
"That was the big change for us because there was no way you could wrestle with that crowd," the Rev. Carolyn Isley said. "We wouldn't be able to get near the building probably."
The remaining Sunday services will take place as regularly scheduled at 8 and 10:30 a.m., she said.
The parking lot to the church will be blocked off on Saturday, Isley added.