Despite the hardships brought on by the coronavirus, North County houses of worship are prepared to host traditional seasonal gatherings this weekend with remote services including Lenten, Passover and Easter services that are being offered via social media, streaming online services and religious centers’ dedicated websites.
“What we’re doing now is what we’re always doing: holding out God’s truth as eternal light in a dying world,” said Pastor Michael Foley of Star of Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
The Orcutt congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod has offered online services for the past two years. They’ve leashed the power of social media with streaming on YouTube and Facebook with live presentations that are archived for later access for viewers’ convenience. Services and further church information can be accessed at www.starlutheran.org.
Foley said the online systems help the church reach out to its homebound seniors and serve to fit today’s busy family, work schedules and reach out to those still searching for their church home.
Star of Bethlehem continues staying in contact with its prayer chain through e-mail, phone calls to older members who don’t access the internet, and through a church bulletin mailed weekly to members.
“Like anybody else, we’re kind of shocked by COVID-19 and everything it’s brought, but God is still in control, still on the throne, and I think people are going to appreciate worship a lot more once we can come back for real,” Foley said.
Most churches and synagogues are including information on their websites that direct congregants to online services and available counseling.
While St. Louis de Montfort Catholic Church has been closed for weeks, the parish and rectory remain accessible by phone or email. Masses are being celebrated “as normally as able” via livestream at SLDM.org, as well as seasonal devotional services.
“This seems terrible to us all, including the archbishop, but the church is working in tandem with the state on these matters of social distancing and self-isolation and limiting gathering,” notes the website message.
In addition, St. Louis de Montfort is using its online space to post daily devotional prayers “to help us all have something to look forward to each day and help punctuate the boredom that can set in if we are not too careful.”
Temple Beth El, Santa Maria’s Jewish home synagogue, discontinued its services in late March as well as all communal activities. It suspended Etz Chaim religious school “except for special (outdoor) activities with reduced personal contact.” The synagogue’s website announced the cancellation of its community Passover Seder and encouraged congregants to pray privately, search for online or on-TV services, and increase telephone, email and social media communications between members, relatives and friends.
Lompoc Valley Baptist Church offers all of its regular services live via the internet every Wednesday and Sunday at https://www.lompocvalleybaptist.net/
First Christian Church in Santa Maria maintains a website with links to its 24-hour prayer line connecting worshippers to ministry leaders for prayer at all hours, family activities and parenting resources. There are links to Bible studies and recommendations for service to and for families and the community at large.
Their services are livestreamed at www.fccsantamaria.org.
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