‘How do we love our neighbor well?’ Churches encourage social connectivity despite physical distancing | TheUnion.com

‘How do we love our neighbor well?’ Churches encourage social connectivity despite physical distancing

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

Despite self-quarantine and social distancing, people continue to explore their faith.

And their churches are trying to help.

Taking to Zoom Video Communications, live streaming services, Facebook Live, YouTube, emails, phone calls and physical mail delivery, local churches are adapting to stay in touch with their congregations despite not interacting in the same physical space.

“We’re trying to be as creative as possible and learning day-by-day,” said Grass Valley’s Crossroads Church Pastor Andrew West.

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Crossroads has been live streaming its Sunday services, and checking in with its members through phone calls and email. At the moment, West said his church is working to uncover the needs of low-income people and assist where possible.

“(This) is a whole new frontier,” said Sierra Pines United Methodist Church Pastor Suzanne Calhoun.

Video recordings of liturgy without music are being sent via email to people, said Calhoun, and Zoom is being used for the first time.

For the pastor, this is an opportunity to deepen her personal communication with a higher power.

“It’s just making the space to be still and listen to God,” said Calhoun.

Zoom has been implemented for Bible study and other meetings at Grass Valley’s Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Father Seth Kellermann said. Kellermann said his church is working to find ways to connect with people who are not as comfortable with technology or who don’t have internet access.

For the past 2,000 years, he said, the church has relied on in-person activities. Now, people are relying more on their personal connections with God, reading the Book of Common Prayer to continue worship.

While Kellermann said it’s difficult not seeing people, he’s been interested to see how his congregation continues to seek worship.

“Some find it refreshing to take time and reflect,” he said.

HELPING OTHERS

A number of churches have gathered teams of people virtually to volunteer to help others.

At Peace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley, representative Carolynn Peterson said church volunteers have been shopping for fellow believers who can’t leave their homes.

“We don’t want anybody to feel that they’re isolated or alone,” she said.

Unitarian Universalist of the Mountains established a “care team” to do much of the same, and the Emmanuel Episcopal Church has a group of 20 volunteers reaching out to people, checking in and offering support and care, if only via telephone.

But despite the changes recently, some goals of the church have remained the same — many of which they will continue navigating regardless of an ongoing pandemic.

“How do we connect with people?” asked Pastor Andrew West. “How do we love our neighbor well?”

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.


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