From mask wearing, physical distancing in church to online services, churches have adapted to the changes brought by the Coronavirus pandemic to society. Still, some local churches in the country want to bridge the gap created by the virus and reach more parishioners in a personal way without sacrificing the health protocols set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In Springfield, Ill, a church installed Plexiglass walls between its pews. Progressive Church of God is open, but takes extra precaution to ensure the safety of its congregants during in-person worship, reports News Channel 20.
Our country is going through so much grief and so many crises, it’s just great to be out there and sharing God’s love. —Blair Pogue, Rector at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, MN
Pastor Glenn Jackson said, “Everyone is not capable of doing Zoom, so we wanted to say if you are not able to go on Zoom and you are willing to come to the church, we are going to set the stage for you to be able to come here and feel comfortable.”
First Christian Church in Mansfield, Ohio offers a drive-in communion service to people. Those who attend the seven-minute service stay inside their vehicles and wait for the man who hands over disposable Communion cups containing a grape and cracker, reports Mansfield News Journal.
“Celebrating the Lord’s Supper is very much part of our worship life,” said Rev. Gregory Bibler. “Ministers have had to get creative.”
The COVID-19 pandemic forced people to stay indoors, cutting off social interactions and making it difficult to offer comfort to others. In St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Saint Paul, MN, they created a new ritual to express condolences to a widow of a beloved member.
According to Park Bugle, parishioners placed a vase outside the house of the widow and people came by to drop small items such as a shell or stone, sometimes a comforting scripture verse.
“Imagine this glass vase starting to fill and knowing all these people are thinking of you and praying for you,” said St. Matthew’s Rector Blair Pogue. “We’ve continued that tradition with others who have died. It’s painful not to hug someone who is grieving. But we’re trying to find ways we can symbolically wrap arms and hearts around people.”
The church also holds worship services in a park since August. People who wished to join the service needs to register first since attendance is limited to 40 only. They came to the park bringing their own chairs and settled in groups of two or three.
Pogue was surprised to enjoy outdoor worship and compared the experience to the time when Jesus was on Earth. “As I think about early Christianity, Jesus was on the move! Then we got these buildings and we became this stationary people,” she said. “I feel like we’re supposed to be out in the neighborhoods. Our country is going through so much grief and so many crises, it’s just great to be out there and sharing God’s love.”