By Sheila Phibbs
The Haldimand Press
HALDIMAND—As businesses and facilities have been closed, as everyday activities, special events, and celebrations are put on hold, and as self-isolation and social distancing have become part of the “new normal”, there is one aspect of community life that has managed to adapt and carry on throughout the pandemic – church.
Sunday morning worship across the county has evolved with many churches using technology and social media to reach members at home. For Caledonia Presbyterian, Facebook and YouTube have become the norm as the weekly service is streamed live and later posted. Print copies of services are prepared for those not online. According to Rev. Janice Doyle, “This allows the flexibility to join worship anytime, but it also allows for the tradition of gathering on Sunday mornings for those who prefer and enjoy the tradition of ‘gathering’. It allows us to be virtually and spiritually together while we remain physically apart.”
Pastor Jennifer Bawden has used emails and Facebook to maintain connections with her congregations at Canfield United and Oneida United. Once the doors were closed, digital versions of the Sunday service, including hymn lyrics, children’s story, scriptures, and messages, were circulated electronically or ‘porch dropped’ to those without email. The Facebook group United in Community was created as an ecumenical forum through which Pastor Bawden shares daily videos featuring devotionals, reflections, and prayers. Story time for children has also been a daily highlight along with special announcements like birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations. Bawden says, “People need and want to be connected…. People require community to live their lives well.”
In Jarvis, Rev. Canon Richard Moorse is the Rector at St. Paul’s Anglican Church as well as St. John’s Anglican in Cheapside and Dunn Parish. Their church services are video-taped and aired on YouTube and Facebook with DVD copies available to those without internet. Print copies of the service and sermon can also be provided. Rev. Moorse suggests, “The value of staying in touch in this difficult time remains just as important as it was when people were able to attend church. The purpose is the spiritual wellbeing of all…. It is important to keep our spiritual side healthy.”