Senior Pastor Robert Wallace prepares for a streamed Wednesday night Bible study from his house for the Mclean Baptist Church congregation.
With the outbreak of Coronavirus pushing Governor Ralph Northam to close Virginia public schools, his decision to close all nonessential businesses and ban public gatherings came as no surprise. Now, a week before Easter Sunday, many church communities are overcoming obstacles to connect with church members while adapting to the social distancing requirements.
At Mclean Presbyterian Church, Senior Pastor James Forsyth emphasized the difference between the end of in-person activities and the end of the community.
“We have canceled activities at the church, but we have not stopped being the church! We're worshipping online, posting daily devotionals, meeting in smaller groups for an online community, and seeking out ways to serve our neighbors and communities. God knew this was going to happen. Now we get to participate in Kingdom work in new and creative ways.”
TO COPE with the lack of interaction, programs have been put in place to foster the same tight-knit atmosphere as before in churches such as Lewinsville Presbyterian Church.
“Every Monday, one of our Pastors does a short video blog which is posted on our Facebook page, our YouTube channel, and our website. Every Tuesday, our congregation receives our current Prayer List via email. Every Wednesday, we invite our folks to our Weekly Bible Study, now via Zoom video conference. Every Thursday, we send out information about our upcoming Sunday Worship Service online, our Christian Education classes, and any announcements we may have. Every Friday, our Director of Music Ministries provides a music video we post on Facebook, YouTube, and the website. On Saturdays, as the need arises, we make our folks aware of any mission outreach needs such as SHARE, Second Story, and Christ House.”
Pastor Sandy Kessinger of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer describes the ways members of the clergy are working to produce services remotely.
“We are videotaping our services right now. Our musicians tape the music part of our liturgy from home. I tape the spoken parts of the liturgy and sermon and then we have someone who puts it all together. On Fridays, we email everyone the link to the videos (traditional service and contemporary service) along with the bulletins for people to follow the written word.”
IN THIS TIME OF NEED, Senior Pastor Dr. Robert Cheeks, Jr of the Shiloh Baptist Church leads the community in helping others.
“Recently, we've created the COVID-19 response team specifically to assist with transportation, shopping, pickup and delivery needs for all of those at high-risk and the elderly. We've even asked Shiloh, and the Friends of Shiloh, to contribute financially to aid the unemployed.”
Mclean Baptist Church along with Senior Pastor Robert Wallace has turned the focus onto the meaning of the holidays.
“The ‘mandate’ Jesus gave which gives Maundy Thursday its name is to ‘love one another.’ We have asked the congregation to put together short videos that show ways they have ‘loved one another’ during this time of separation. Some have been baking for the family. Some have been sewing medical masks.”
Although these conditions may not be ideal, Pastor Joy Majied of Garfield Memorial Christian Church urges congregation members to use this time to reflect on the restoration of humanity.
“It is my hope and prayer that when it [social distancing] is all said and done and we rush to return to normal, that we have spent some time examining and deciding which parts of normal are worth rushing back to, or what we truly desire our ‘new’ normal to look like.”