RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Churches in Virginia have been ordered to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the Easter holiday approaches, faith leaders are finding ways to adapt and bring congregations together with technology.
Along West Cary Street in Richmond, a sign reads ‘church happens beyond these walls.’ For the congregation at Reveille United Methodist Church, that message is true now more than ever.
“Now we’re in people’s homes in ways that we weren’t before,” said Lead Pastor Douglas Forrester.
Forrester is prepping for Easter on Sunday, when normally multiple church services throughout the holiday weekend would welcome over 1100 members.
This year there will be no pews filled with pastels, the whole church will remain empty. Instead services are set to stream on YouTube.
In the age of social distancing, it’s a way to celebrate the holiday together in a new way.
“What we’re finding is how much people really crave connection and desire to be together,” Forrester told 8News. “This whole experience has really been a reminder as to how much we mean to one another.”
Before the mandate closing church doors across Virginia, Reveille was already preparing for recorded church services. Video equipment was already en route in the mail. This pandemic just thrust them into the virtual world sooner than they planned for.
“We had never really filmed worship before and within a week we were able to be writing individual parts of the liturgy, filming individual parts of the liturgy, and then putting it online,” Forrester said.
Yet even for a holiday about hope — usually celebrated hand in hand — this pastor says the message is still being received.
“I believe we’re going to come through this with a renewed sense of not only connection to one another, but connection to our community and our world and we’re going to be better for it,” Forrester said.
Reveille United Methodist is far from the only church to be streaming Easter services in RVA. The priest at Sacred Heart told 8News he’s planning for virtual masses in both English and Spanish.
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