With Easter coming up, some Christians are wondering how they’re going to take part in religious services when the doors to their local church are closed. Many local churches are entering the digital age in order to be there for their parishioners during California's stay at home order.
Catholic Mass from the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is now on Facebook and YouTube, with multiple camera views. Bishop Jaime Soto led a recent mass in English and Spanish.
“My brothers and sisters we gather here for the very sacred mass. Mis hermanos, mis hermanas," he began.
For some Catholics, the religious experience of communion or confession is important, but can’t be performed under government orders for people to stay home. For now, Blessed Sacrament is finding different options for worshipers.
“There’s something called an act of perfect contrition that is also a form of prayer that people can do with the intent that they make the firm resolve to approach the sacrament as soon as it’s safe to do so,” church spokesman Bryan Visitacion said.
He says priests are phoning people or using video apps to connect.
Over at Davis Lutheran, Pastor Jeff Irwin has taken a different tack to reach out to his parishioners.
“We’ve chosen to do a podcast,” Irwin said.
Many of them are older.
“Knowing some people don’t even have video capability on their computers, they’re not that connected. Hopefully they can listen on their phone,” Irwin said. “A podcast is more like, some of them have equated it to an old-time radio show.”
The learning curve is steep.
“It’s really cold in here,” he began a recent episode. “We learned last week that if you turn the heat on in the sanctuary, you can hear the fan blowing around the organ music, like wah wah wah wah. So we turned the heat off and we had to re-record all the selections last week.”
He says people request hymns which they find soothing.
Up in Yuba City, Rev. Dr. Garrett J. Andrew is pastor at St Andrew Presbyterian. He intentionally did not have a choir on stage or himself holding forth before an empty auditorium.
“It’s an interesting thing to watch so many preachers suddenly become televangelists,” Andrew said.
Instead it’s just him sitting in front of a screen, using the Zoom video meeting app and posting the video on Youtube.
“I wanted to be sure we had some semblance of community,” he said during a phone interview. “Having Zoom, we can see people’s faces. The professionalism goes way down, but I think the community gets to go up.”
Andrew says one of his biggest concerns is the isolation and mental well-being of members of the community who were already suffering from loneliness and depression.
All three say they pleaded with people to stay home but say they understand how isolation affects people and why Sacramento County health officials say parishioners in Rancho Cordova gathered when they weren’t supposed to.
On the morning he spoke to CapRadio, Pastor Andrew received word that a close friend in Albany, Georgia had died.
“It’s a hot bed,” Andrew said. “It was a funeral that started the whole thing.”
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