Churches have quickly joined other organizations in closing their buildings and moving everything online in response to health officials’ advice to stay home and practice social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This has forced some churches to figure out how to still provide Sunday services and other faith meetings virtually.
The importance of having continued services, even virtual ones, is to be able to come together as a community during difficult times, Pastor Katherine Lewis of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Minnetonka said.
Resonate Church in Shakopee served drive-up, sealed communion March 26 so its parishioners would be able to take communion together — but apart — on Good Friday, April 10.
The drive-up communion grab arrived at a good time, just a day before Gov. Tim Walz shut down all essential travel throughout the state.
“We’re trying to create community wherever we can,” Resonate Pastor Curtis Brown said.
So on Thursday, March 26 church staff gloved and masked up, and handed community members the bag with communion packs: sealed cups with communion wafers and juice.
It was a small semblance of community during a time when group gatherings are all but eliminated from everyday life.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been all bad for Resonate Church. As of March 24, Brown said there were 800 views on the weekend’s online video message. Normally, the church has about 300 people in attendance.
Resonate also hosts small groups, where people normally meet at their homes or at coffee shops. Now, those groups are meeting online using WebX. Youth groups that normally meet on Wednesdays and Sundays are doing online get-togethers throughout the week. And the church’s children’s director is doing a Facebook Live broadcast Sunday mornings.
“When this came out, we thought, let’s try to be as normal as we possibly can,” Brown said.
For Grace Church in Eden Prairie, it wasn’t much of a leap to switch to online-only for its services after it suspended in-person services through at least April 5. That’s because it has been streaming its services for years on its website, grace.live. The church has also canceled all midweek events and is working to create alternative ways to connect people digitally, the church’s executive director Craig McLain said.