Churches, as with other entities, are dealing with the coronavirus crisis as best they can.
Initially, Father Mike Roach was hoping precautions at St. James Catholic Church in Liberty would allow parishioners to continue to worship in person, but that changed.
“We were trying to take every precaution from no communion from the cup and no handshakes,” Roach said. “Unfortunately, we have now gone to televising Sunday services and sharing prayers and meditations on Facebook.”
While Mass is not taking place, Roach said the church is open for prayer.
“Our church building is large enough that people can come in and pray and still remain physically distant as we need people to be,” he said. “I also have been fielding lots of calls. I have made a few home visits, too.”
Roach said he is encouraging people to be patient and kind, not only with others under their roof, but also themselves.
“We all have to stay healthy even while we don’t understand what is going on,” he said. “It’s a difficult time, but God is with us to guide us through.”
Roach said he is also taking care of himself so he can care for others.
“I have a good support system and my family is nearby,” he said. “I firmly believe in the goodness of people. During this time, we can turn to what is really important, … the gift of health and family. While this is unchartered territory and not business as usual, God is with us.”
Even some nonparishoners have called him.
“I very much want to be a resource and comfort to anyone who is seeking comfort,” he said. “We have to hold onto a gift of home and trust in God. During each day, I hope that people can pause a moment and remember what they are grateful for. I know there will be goodness today and tomorrow. I want people to be patient and loving. While the issue is something we don’t understand, God is teaching us to do these positive loving things.”
Pastor Mike Kern with Hosanna Lutheran Church said the church follows the mandates of the health department as well as the schools.
“We have started streaming worship service and offer remote Bible studies,” he said. “We are focusing on staying connected without touch. We are offering inspirational words on Facebook.”
Kern said he wants to see churches share facts rather than let hysteria prevail.
“I also believe that as church leaders, we can help lessen anxiety in our roles,” he said. “Our role can help lessen anxiety and separate fact from fiction. ... If God can bring life in the wake of death, we need not fear that a virus can take away our future or even the joy of today. We can act deliberately, rationally and relationally without panic.”
As well as others around the Northland, Smithville’s First Christian Church is offering services virtually.
“We’re doing this in order to maintain the stay-at-home order and protect our members,” FCC Office Manager Susan Wills said.
Being home to the only open food pantry in Smithville, Wills said there is a blessings box outside the church where families can donate or take food as needed. Ways the community can help others, Wills said, are by keeping that box full and making donations to the pantry on Tuesdays.
“We are asking for younger volunteers,” Wills added, as many of the regular volunteers are part of the at-risk group for coronavirus.
In addition to services, bread and broth events are being virtually hosted on Facebook at facebook.com/smithvillefcc.
For other FCC news and updates on events hosted digitally, see the church’s Facebook page by searching “@smithvillefcc” on the social media platform.
Vineyard Church is also hosting online services as is Grace Community Church. “Please communicate,” a Grace Community Church Facebook post states. “Please reach out to one another and please communicate any need you have or are aware of to us.”
Good Shepherd Catholic Church, also hosting online services, also encourages helping others by donating items during an essentials drive from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 28, at the church, 18601 U.S. Highway 169. The drive benefits the local food pantry and Synergy Services.
Additional churches in Smithville having virtual services include Family Worship Center, Smithville United Methodist Church and the First Baptist Church.
Ahead of the stay-at-home order issued by cities and the county earlier this week, Pastor Nick DiBenedetto said his congregation at Kearney’s Radiant Life Church, like others, were doing what they could to avoid the spread of germs like not passing the offering plate through pews and instead offering drop boxes.
However, in light of the spread of COVID-19, churches throughout the city have now gone online.
At Church of the Annunciation, there are no weekday or weekend Masses.
”Our offices will be closed and all church gatherings and events are canceled,” the church’s website states. “You can visit the diocesan website for information and updates at kcsjcatholic.org.”
Rather than church services, at kearneyfbc.com, Kearney’s First Baptist Church is posting regular video devotionals to help families stay connected to one another and the church.
Other church pastors across the Northland, like Richard Dodson of Kearney’s Church of Christ, have taken to sharing devotional’s with the Courier-Tribune. Those submitted will be printed in future editions of the newspaper.
For other Kearney church updates, check the specific church’s website or search the church’s name on Facebook.