This Easter seems to be the moment for Washington-area churches to be in the national TV spotlight.
In addition to CBS' coverage of Shiloh Baptist Church, NBC (WRC, Channel 4), will air a nationwide hour-long telecast of Sunday's 11 a.m. service at Columbia Baptist Church in Falls Church.
The 125-year-old church was chosen, according to the pastor, the Rev. Neal T. Jones, partly because a number of notable Washingtonians, including members of Congress, attend services there.
In addition, with 2,900 members, Columbia is the largest Southern Baptist church in Northern Virginia, according to Jones. The church sponsors numerous community outreach programs, many aimed at Virginia's Hispanic and Indochinese communities.
"We feel very, very honored," said Jones. "You don't get to do this too often."
Columbia has had to make some accommodations of its own, Jones said.
"We had to move two long pews out of the balcony for cameras . . . that will cost us seating which we need on Easter."
The church cut regular Eater services back to two in order to give TV crews enough time to set up the cameras for the main service, said Jones And, at NBC's suggestion, he asked Rep. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), to do the scripture reading, something Jones would normally do.
Just as with Shiloh Baptist, however, Jones and his congregation are trying to take extra cae that the deeply religious meaning of Easter is not lost in the hubbub.
During the service, Jones will deliver a children's sermon, a regular feature at Columbia. With children gathered around, and equipped with butterfly and caterpillar props, he will show and tell the story, "Creepy Crawler Becomes Beautiful Butterfly."
So far Jones has gone through five rough drafts of his main sermon, "Here's Life, America."
"I've really prepared myself for this over the years," Jones said. "I file away everything, I'm a prolific reader."