Churches are closing doors, live streaming Services for congregants avoiding Coronavirus
With the number of coronavirus cases on the increase, Aaron Trank and his wife, Rachelle, held church in the home on Sunday.
Trank called on the household’s Amazon Echo to flow worship songs for their children. The household sang along to music on YouTube before praying together. Next week, they will stream sermons online.
“We have never done anything like this before,” Trank said. “We were hoping to recreate the arrangement of a standard Sunday because it has become part of our weekly cadence. Luckily, technology has helped us to achieve that.”
The Tranks are one of many in pockets of America who needed to alter religious plans over the weekend in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed over 3,000 people and sickened many more internationally.
The family typically attends a ceremony at Reality SF in San Francisco, but the church curtailed meeting following the town’s mayor called for a stop on nonessential large parties.
Tech from the church: Sermons on societal
Before, before Facebook Live and digital payment programs, a bottleneck on church services could have been logistically and financially disruptive, religious leaders say. Nowadays, it is not much of an inconvenience.
For decades now, churches have bolstered their electronic footprints by accepting offerings on the internet, posting sermons on social networking and hosting group meetings through video chat. So in the aftermath of coronavirus, when cities are shutting down and quarantine is dispersing, clergy leaders are ramping up services which are generally an extension of a standard Sunday.
“What was once just 20 per cent of our ministry has come to be 100 per cent of our ministry,” said pastor Kaloma Smith of University AME Zion Church at Palo Alto, California.
The church, which is home to approximately 300 members, largely sat vacant on March 8 because of coronavirus concerns. Smith and a small number of members went to the sanctuary to videotape a sermon over the weekend, and it was posted on Facebook for the larger congregation to watch from their homes.
Eighty per cent of the church’s contributions are electronic, so temporarily shutting down the building until coronavirus fears subside was not tricky to perform, Smith said.
“We are fortunate that a whole lot of our giving is online since it allows us this flexibility,” Smith said.
From congregants into Facebook views
Being online also cuts down on operating costs like electricity and heating. And pastors can use data to monitor which subjects resonate with their parishioners based on participation, shares and views. Smith’s latest sermon had roughly 150 views on Facebook, ” he said.
Coronavirus is also altering operations at mega-churches with various locations and tens of thousands of members.
Churchome, that’s the brainchild of star pastors Judah and Chelsea Smith, shutdown its arm in Seattle amid the town’s coronavirus crisis. Public health officials have recommended that people in the Seattle area stay home when possible.
On Sunday, Churchome saw its online attendance double.
“During this season, we’re thankful for the accent and focus we have put on the church not being restricted to the four walls of a huge building,” said David Kroll, CEO of Churchome. At the middle of the megachurch is a program that allows congregants post, share and attend electronic events.
Both of the churches said it is uncertain how long the respiratory disease will affect operations.
The spreading of the respiratory virus can be altering behaviour at places of worship which opt to keep doors open.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has temporarily suspended some member gatherings, such as Sunday worship. The Archdiocese of Chicago issued a note to priests urging them to make sure that all boats used at Mass are purified. The church governing body also said people should avoid holding hands during prayer.
Communion and the collection plate
Presbyterian Church of the Master in Omaha, Nebraska, held communion, a service where bread and wine are consecrated and shared. Rather than passing trays of bread round the aisles of the congregation, the pastor wore gloves and handed the bread out, piece by piece.
“We wanted to make certain there were not multiple individual contacts on any of the trays to decrease the possibility of anyone becoming infected off surfaces,” explained Mike Osborn, 68, who works on the church’s worship committee.
Attendees at the church in Nebraska were apprehensive about touching one another, Osborn said. “Next week, we are going to evaluate how we approach the collection plate and the cash that has been managed by God knows who.”
The concerns surrounding coronavirus are legitimate. It’s possible that an individual can find the virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own face, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The World Health Organization recently warned that money may also be a vector for the outbreak to spread, even though it primarily travels through respiratory droplets.