We are back at it full time again, but give it some time for the blog to be back at full speed.
Category : Blogging & the Internet
As I said to a friend today the word “break” in this midst of this current situation has to be put in quotes. In any event it needs to happen somehow even give the limitations .
I have been at this blog since the first part of 2003, and it is time to step back. As I am constantly insisting to my friends, none of us is indispensable, and this is a way of living that out by yours truly. Remember I told you I am the type of person who goes to bed every night just a little sad–only a little–about how much I don’t know (and still wish to find out). So moving away from the information addiction for me will not necessarily be easy–but it is important.
Posts will be catch as catch can until I let you know–KSH.
God made the Sabbath for all time. It was not designed to be of temporary duration, but of eternal. The time will never come when the seventh day is not the blessed, holy rest day of God. “All his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever” (Psalm 111:7, 8). pic.twitter.com/7eeT3hgr7Q
— Obed Ministry (@ObedMinistry) July 4, 2020
What did the laity experience?
Throughout the lockdown, most laity felt well supported by their clergy (51%) and by the members of their church (49%). A high proportion accessed services online (91%), but this figure needs to be read against the fact that these were people also responding to an online survey.
Among those who attended online services, the sense of participation was not as high as may have been expected. About two-fifths reported that during online services they actually prayed (40%) or recited the liturgy (36%), but fewer reported that they joined in singing (27%).
Privatising holy communion
The lockdown brought into sharp focus questions about celebrating and receiving communion. The survey revealed some significant differences between the views of those giving ministry and those receiving ministry. Whereas 41% of laity agreed that it was right for clergy to celebrate holy communion in their own homes without broadcasting the service to others, only 31% of ministers did so.
Similarly, 43% of laity argued that it was right for people at home to receive communion from their own bread and wine as part of an online communion service, compared with 34% of clergy.
The survey also revealed divided opinion between people from different traditions: 49% of Anglo-Catholics agreed that it was right for clergy to celebrate communion in their homes without broadcasting the service to others, compared with only 25% of Evangelicals.
Conversely, only 23% of Anglo-Catholics argued that it was right for people at home to receive communion from their own bread and wine as part of an online communion service, compared with 55% of Evangelicals.
Coronavirus, Church & You Survey: an in-depth look at the preliminary results https://t.co/DbZzYmLpfD
— Church Times (@ChurchTimes) June 25, 2020
[Millenial]…’values hold that the self is an autonomous being, the self’s desires are fundamentally good, and societal and sexual repression as not just undesirable but actively evil. These millennials, which in my new book I called “Remixed Millennials,” are at once attracted to moral and theological certainty — accounts of the human condition that claim totalizing truth or demand difficult adherence because the challenge is ultimately rewarding — and repulsed by traditions that set hard limits on personal, and particularly sexual or romantic, desire.
That, for better or for worse, is where corporations come in. Increasingly, companies have recognized that there is a gap in the needs of today’s Remixed: institutions, activities, philosophies and rituals that manage to be challenging and totalizing while also preserving millennials’ need for personal freedom. It’s the dot-com bubble for spirituality, a free marketplace of innovation and religious disruption. No sooner does something become a viral movement than an ingenious startup finds a way to re-create it at a more profitable price point. (Columbia Business School is currently hosting an incubator for “spiritual entrepreneurs,” offering a certificate in spiritual entrepreneurship for those who complete a 20-week course.)
Consumer-capitalist culture offers us not merely necessities but identities. Meaning, purpose, community and ritual can all — separately or together — be purchased on Amazon Prime.
As journalist Amanda Hess wrote in The New York Times, “Shopping, decorating, grooming and sculpting are now jumping with meaning. And a purchase need not have any explicit social byproduct — the materials eco-friendly, or the proceeds donated to charity — to be weighted with significance. Pampering itself has taken on a spiritual urgency.”’
Digital advertising on platforms such as Google, Facebook and Alibaba is set this year to overtake spending on traditional media for the first time, a historic shift in market share that has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Excluding online ads sold by old media outlets such as news publishers or broadcasters, digital marketing is predicted to account for more than half the $530bn global advertising industry in 2020, according to GroupM, the media buying agency owned by WPP.
Separate forecasts released last week by Magna, part of IPG Mediabrands, also expect 2020 to be the year traditional media is upstaged.
The digital revolution in marketing under way since the millennium, when the internet accounted for under 2 per cent of spending, has transformed the ad market at a pace and scale that far outstrips the advent of television in the 20th century.
And there it is: “Digital advertising on platforms such as Google, Facebook and Alibaba is set this year to overtake spending on traditional media for the first time, a historic shift in market share that has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.” https://t.co/lIUXv9kkre
— Alec MacGillis (@AlecMacGillis) June 23, 2020
— ACNA (@The_ACNA) June 20, 2020
‘Rob Kenney is using YouTube to share lessons he wished he had learned as a child growing up without a father. On his page, “Dad, How Do I?” Kenney shares useful advice on tasks such as tying a tie, changing a tire, and fixing a toilet, while providing encouragement to his over two million subscribers.’
Watch it all.
(New Atlantis) Stefan Beck–Do We Want Dystopia? On nightmare tech as the fulfillment of warped desire
Inasmuch as there are canonical texts of American education, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is one of them. But students may wonder why their teacher presents as “dystopian” a text that reads, in 2020, like an operating manual for the technocratic American Dream. The taming of reproduction and heredity by science; the banishment of boredom, discomfort, and sorrow by entertainment and pharmacology; the omnipresent availability of attachment-free sex; the defeat of death, sort of, by blissed-out euthanasia: Huxley foresaw not our fears but some of our deepest aspirations.
To read and teach Brave New World as dystopia is at best an oblivious atavism, at worst a piece of deluded self-flattery. As a character (not even an especially bright one) observes in Michel Houellebecq’s The Elementary Particles (1998), “Everyone says Brave New World is supposed to be a totalitarian nightmare, a vicious indictment of society, but that’s hypocritical bullshit.” The only thing Huxley got wrong, the character adds, is society’s acceptance of genetic caste stratification. In reality, we expect “advances in automation and robotics” to render such attine division of labor as obsolete as the sundial, the cotton gin, and the dot matrix printer.
It’s easy to look back at Huxley’s novel and attribute the radiant, meaningless future toward which it so fearfully looked as the realization of the dreams of scientists — including Huxley’s own brother, the eugenicist Julian Huxley — with their Promethean curiosity and procrustean “solutions.” But Huxley fretted about the machinations of industry as much as he did about scientists: Brave New World is peppered with the surnames of Henry Ford, Sir Alfred Mond, and Maurice Bokanowski. Huxley seemed convinced that when the last irregularity was removed from the human condition, and the last inconvenience stripped from the human experience, it would be scientists’ and industrialists’ hands wielding the plane. But where the scientists pursue knowledge for its own sake, or in service of the good as they see it, the tech titans pursue it the better to sell us what we want. How well the would-be Aldous Huxleys of our day understand that — and how much blame they place on us and our appetites — is the subject of this essay.
Since you’re already thinking about our dystopian future, why not think about me thinking about our dystopian future? Special bonus audio track! https://t.co/sDTbtEsvYV
— Stefan Beck (@stefanmbeck) March 12, 2020
God the Father beyond us
God the Son alongside us
God the Spirit within us
all the time every time no matter what the time
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) June 7, 2020
Pope Francis is to take part in an online service alongside senior UK church leaders, including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, for the first time.
He is set to call on people to turn away from the “selfish pursuit of success without caring for those left behind” and to be united in facing the “pandemics of the virus and of hunger, war, contempt for life and indifference to others”.
His special message is to mark Pentecost Sunday, the day Christians celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.
The virtual service is the finale of this year’s global prayer movement, called Thy Kingdom Come, which is usually filled with mass gatherings and outdoor celebrations involving 65 different denominations and traditions.
It has had to be adapted due to the pandemic so people can take part in their homes.
Pope to take part in online service with UK church leaders for first timehttps://t.co/D4XCASERMB
— Premier Christian (@PremierRadio) May 29, 2020
When everything began shutting down back in March, Steve Wiens thought he would be leading church via Zoom for two, maybe four, weeks.
Members of his church, Genesis Covenant in Robbinsdale, Minn., rose to the challenge. They celebrated the Eucharist from their kitchens, with coffee and doughnuts, Capri Sun and Oreos. They divided themselves into small groups across town to keep tabs of who needed groceries or supplies.
“We’ve somehow maintained a real intimacy and sweetness because we leaned into the values that always held us,” Mr. Wiens said.
But as the weeks have turned into months, and Zoom fatigue is settling in, many church leaders are contemplating how — and when exactly — to reopen. This week, Mr. Wiens mapped out a four-stage plan of what a return to safe in-person worship might look like. Maybe by July they could worship in socially distant groups of 50, he guessed, and maybe they could lift all limits in the fall.
“That may be optimistic,” he said. “What we are doing right now will change how faith is expressed in worship, whether we like it or not.”
After Weeks on Zoom, Churches Consider Plans to Reopen https://t.co/D3gOQZX8gk
— Herb Scribner (@HerbScribner) May 7, 2020
More than a month into virtual services, ministers are finding ways to engage with their congregants, even if services are watched in living rooms amid real-life distractions.
Online worship services can provide a sense and value of authenticity, said Alan Sherouse, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“It’s a powerful reminder about the way the holy and sacred meet the everyday or ordinary,” he said. “Those little interruptions have been a reminder that God meets us right in the midst of all these hard circumstances.”
Increased virtual ministry efforts allow congregants who are unable to attend in-person services due to work schedules, health issues and now social distancing an opportunity to participate in a worship service.
“We’ve been encouraged to see that the people we have been wondering about are really loving to be connected to the church through online worship instead of in a sanctuary,” Sherouse said.
Abel León dreaded saying goodbye to his mother, Josefina León. Last month, Mr. León and his sister quietly celebrated their mother’s 70th birthday in Springfield, Ill. Mr. León, 44, who lives in Chicago, wasn’t sure when he would see his mother again amid social distancing. To prolong their goodbye, Mr. León suggested they say a rosary, a prayer that his mother has said every day for years.
“I saw how much that seemed to give her some peace,” Mr. León says. Then inspiration struck. “I said, ‘you know mom, we could stay in touch doing rosaries.’’’
The following evening, March 16, Mr. León and his three siblings joined their mother on a video conference to begin their new daily practice of saying the rosary, following along with a string of beads that represent the cycle of prayers. “This was a way we could just check in and be together as a family,” says Mr. León. “Mom is a widow and everyone worries about her.”
As word spread throughout Mr. León’s large extended family—his mother is one of 12 siblings—the rosary video-call quickly grew to include relatives spanning Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, California, North Carolina and Mexico. Mr. León, who works as a corporate-compliance investigator, offers the group technical support. Since his relatives are familiar with different video-conferencing services, Mr. León props up his iPad in front of his laptop screen, allowing people calling in through different services to see each other. “They can definitely all hear each other so it ends up working out,” he says.
It takes around 15 minutes for a critical mass of people to join the call at 8 p.m.
On a recent Sunday night, some 25 members of Abel León’s family dialed in to pray the rosary together https://t.co/DpCNRPi62j
— Jorge Luis Lopez Esq (@lopezgovlaw) April 22, 2020
Tucked on a short rural street in McClellanville, Greater Howard Chapel is used to seeing about 125 members on a Sunday.
But amid the coronavirus pandemic, the AME congregation is reaching hundreds, if not thousands, more through its online services.
An Easter drive-in worship experience welcomed members who parked cars on a grassy lot as they listened to songs from musicians and a message from the Rev. Leondra Stoney.
About 300 people had tuned in to watch the service live via the church’s Facebook page. By mid-week, the video had more than 7,000 views.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting it,” said Stoney, who noted she was more focused during Resurrection Sunday on drive-in logistics, such as maintaining internet access in the rural area.
Some South Carolina religious institutions are reaching more people through online worship experiences than they did when members sat in the pews.https://t.co/QKzZ2oBcT7
— The Post and Courier (@postandcourier) April 21, 2020
LAST Sunday morning, the glorious first Sunday of Easter, I asked my congregation to bring bread and wine to their front rooms and kitchen tables. I was aware that the situation was domestic, but I want to believe in a God who meets us in our homes and places of work, as well as in our churches.
We had a short service of holy communion on Zoom, at which I and many of the 90-plus people who joined me shared together, as our Saviour taught us whenever we gather together. They intended to be fed by Christ with the sustenance that they need for their ongoing journey during their isolation, lockdown, and Covid-19 illness.
As I reflect on the service, I think that it was the least-worst way to offer holy communion. I do not think that I will need to offer it again, unless we are still locked down at Christmas. But it was a gathered community, it was seemly and reverent, and people who were there have described it as a community communion.
Maybe it was even a little more inclusive than communion in church might have been, because I was in my home and so were the congregation. We made a holy space for God into our Sunday to Saturday lives.
Our sisters and brothers in other denominations have been pondering the same big theological questions during this pandemic. I hope that the House of Bishops will spend some time considering the work of those whose area of study is of digital worship — for example, as CODEC (Centre for Digital Theology) at Durham University.
IT MAY be that I am clinging to the eucharist as Mary did to Jesus. I know that, in presiding, I have broken my promise of obedience to my bishop….
“But, as Easter approached, I began to wonder whether we could gather through Zoom and feel that familiar community connection. And I began to wonder about whether there was any way we could share holy communion together” https://t.co/eWQcuqsxsH
— Church Times (@ChurchTimes) April 15, 2020
(CT’s The Exchange) On Christians Spreading Corona Conspiracies: Gullibility is not a Spiritual Gift
Sadly, Christians seem to be disproportionately fooled by conspiracy theories. I’ve also said before that when Christians spread lies, they need to repent of those lies. Sharing fake news makes us look foolish and harms our witness.
We saw this in the last election when some of the troll factories focused on conservative, evangelical Christians. Here we go again.
First, we need to speak up— particularly to those fooled yet again— and lovingly say, “You need to go to trusted sources.” Social media news feeds are not a trusted source. That’s why we created coronavirusandthechurch.com, to provide credible information for pastors. But, there are plenty of credible news sources— generally from outlets that do not have a track record of conspiracy peddling.
Second, God has not called us to be easily fooled. Gullibility is not a Christian virtue. Believing and sharing conspiracies does not honor the Lord. It may make you feel better, like you are in the know, but it can end up harming others and it can hurt your witness.
I’ve said before that when Christians spread lies, they need to repent of those lies. Sharing fake news makes us look stupid and harms our witness. Now we are seeing it again with Christians spreading coronavirus conspiracies. https://t.co/R7UyKNCfAf
— Ed Stetzer (@edstetzer) April 15, 2020
A PRIEST in Wrexham has become the first in Wales to be licensed for a new ministry through a virtual service.
The Rev Heather Shotton was due to have been licensed as assistant curate for the Offa Mission Area at a large church service in St Mary’s, Ruabon, last Sunday. That had to be called off due to Covid-19 restrictions and the closure of all church buildings. So she was licensed instead in a virtual service carried out via Zoom from her study with just her husband physically present.
Six vicars from different churches gathered online for the service to celebrate Heather’s new role.
It was led by the Archdeacon of Wrexham, John Lomas…. He said: “Priests can only operate under a license from a Bishop. There are clergy like Heather who had already been placed and were awaiting their license before the present crisis. This would normally take place within a service at their new appointment. So as not to create difficulties and gaps in mission the Bishop asked if we could conduct the licensing virtually.
“We used the form of service that had been prepared for Heather’s welcome and licensing. I brought clergy together from Heather’s former church, St Giles in Wrexham and her new Mission Area which includes Ruabon, Chirk and Penycae and we did the service and the licence by Zoom.
“Heather needed to sign the licence so it has been posted to her.”
As is our custom, we aim to let go of the cares and concerns of this world until Monday and to focus on the great, awesome, solemn and holy events of the next three days. I would ask people to concentrate their comments on the personal, devotional, and theological aspects of these days which will be our focal point here. Many thanks–KSH.
True and humble king,
hailed by the crowd as Messiah:
grant us the faith to know you and love you,
that we may be found beside you
on the way of the cross,
which is the path of glory.
Amen.#MaundyThursday #HolyWeek pic.twitter.com/A0kes6rFDx
— Archbishop of Canterbury (@JustinWelby) April 9, 2020
Psychiatrist Philip Muskin is quarantined at home in New York City because he’s been feeling a little under the weather and doesn’t want to expose anyone to whatever he has. But he continues to see his patients the only way he can: over the phone.
“I’ve been a psychiatrist for more than 40 years; I have never FaceTimed a patient in my entire career,” says Muskin, who works at Columbia University Medical Center, treating outpatients in his clinical practice, as well as people who have been hospitalized. Normally, he says he walks patients to the door, shakes their hand or touches their arm or shoulder to reassure them. “Now I’m not doing that, and that’s weird to me. So it’s a whole new, very unpleasant world.”
The pandemic has already robbed many of his patients of their livelihood, or at least their sense of safety. People literally feel trapped, he says.
That, in turn, is leading to a spike in anxiety, depression and addiction — not just among Muskin’s patients, but across the U.S. To try to address those needs, physicians of all kinds are adopting the techniques and technology of telemedicine, which had been only slowly gaining wide acceptance — until the pandemic forced everyone to isolate themselves, mostly at home. The recent demand for telecounseling, as well as for other types of online medical visits, is causing backlogs of care for many providers who offer it.
There are now also even fewer in-person treatment options for some of the most acutely mentally ill in New York, Muskin says; the psychiatric wards at Columbia, where Muskin normally works, have all been converted to beds for COVID-19 patients.
“That means,” he says, “we have no place to send patients who need admission.”
The coronavirus crisis is leading to a spike in issues around anxiety, depression and addiction in the U.S.
So more mental health care providers are turning to telemedicine — and regulators are taking steps to make that easier.https://t.co/xsb6oxl3U5
— NPR (@NPR) April 9, 2020
p class=”css-exrw3m evys1bk0″>The official experts, under such conditions, are most trustworthy insofar as their admonitions track with nonexpert common sense. The approach that most experts are currently urging, for instance, is not some complicated high-science approach to disease management, but the most basic pre-modern method of disease control, as obvious to 15th-century Florentines as to 21st-century New Yorkers — shut things down, quarantine the sick and hope for the best.
Whereas the more specific and granular the experts get, the more the fluidity and chaos of the situation makes their pronouncements dubious. It’s good that we’re modeling the arc of the pandemic, but that doesn’t make any of the models trustworthy. It’s good that we’re trying to figure out how the disease spreads, but none of the claims so far about how you’re most likely to get it (from air, surfaces or otherwise) or who is most at risk (whether from viral load or pre-existing conditions) can be considered at all definitive. It’s good that we’re practicing social distancing, but all of the rules we’re implementing are just rough and ready guesstimates.
And you don’t want to overweight the pronouncements of official science in a situation that requires experimentation and adaptation and a certain amount of gambling. Yes, you should trust Anthony Fauci more than Donald Trump when it comes to the potential benefits of hydroxychloroquine. But the exigencies of the crisis require that experiments outrun the confidence of expert conclusions and the pace of bureaucratic certainty. So if you’re a doctor on the front lines trying to keep your patients from ending up on a ventilator, Dr. Fauci’s level of caution can’t be yours, and you shouldn’t be waiting for the double-blind control trial to experiment with off-label drugs that Spanish and Chinese doctors claim are helping patients.
The same logic applies for policymakers, for whom there is never going to be a definitive, one-size-fits-all blueprint telling them how and when to reopen cities or communities. Every single reopening will be its own unique experiment, with confounding variables of climate, density, age and genetics that are nearly impossible to model, and the advice of epidemiologists will only go so far. Governors and mayors will have to act like scientists themselves, acting and re-acting, adapting and experimenting, with expert advisers at their shoulders but no sure answers till the experiment begins.
— Eli Lake (@EliLake) April 7, 2020
“Mayors have had to have sessions explaining that the doors are not open for the churches to gather,” said Jesse Rincones, Executive Director of Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas — a collection of over 1,100 Hispanic Baptist congregations in Texas.
Like other clergies still working to serve their congregations, the organization is trying to preserve a sense of community amid a loss of routine, ritual and, at times, a sense of peace. Rincones, a pastor of 18 years, has been helping other churches’ leaders move their services online.
The technology aspect has been easier on the United Hebrew Congregation in St. Louis, says Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg. UHC, which serves over 900 families, already had its livestreaming services set up for the homebound and college students, the rabbi said. Still, it’s a different experience.
“I know for many congregants it has taken some getting used to not being together and just sitting in their homes and listening and feeling like they’re watching as opposed to participating,” she said.
The virtual transition will be particularly challenging during the Jewish holiday of Passover, which begins on Wednesday. The St. Louis synagogue is encouraging its congregants to allow for some flexibility with normally strict traditions. This year, the United Hebrew Congregation will be hosting its Passover Seder online.
“Whereas we may not be utilizing technology on a normal Passover, we are going to be using it this time so that we can connect,” Rosenberg said.
As the coronavirus pandemic intensifies across the country, many churches, synagogues, temples and mosques are temporarily shutting their doors to all public services.https://t.co/a55Oi0N9hF
— Weekend Edition (@NPRWeekend) April 5, 2020
Now to return to virtual communion and the recommendation for Eucharistic fasting during this divine judgment on our social greed. Let’s take an exemplary proponent, Lutheran theologian Prof. Deanna Thompson, who is now at St. Olaf College. She is a personally credible interlocutor on the question of “virtual” ministry, as she writes out of her excruciating experience of life-threatening cancer in the prime of life. She’s published a book, The Virtual Body of Christ, in which she makes the case for employing the new social media technologies just as the Lutheran Reformation employed the Gutenberg press. I agree with much of this, as I said above. Nevertheless, I respectfully and yet sharply disagree with her urging in the present pandemic crisis that people at home should set up bread and wine, as if to participate via the Internet in the live streaming of the Lord’s Supper liturgy. As I’ve listened and pondered the arguments being made in favor of this proposal, I have come to a certain realization which I would like briefly to argue here.
Let me begin, by affirming that Christ is “really” in the preached word which can be conveyed through these media. He is really present to offer himself in his righteousness, life and peace for the auditor’s sin, death and disease. Long ago, however, I discovered that in the Lutheran confessional writings what was at stake was never this so-called “real” presence but rather the “bodily” presence of Jesus Christ according to his word and promise. What difference does this apparently subtle distinction make? Answer: historically it excluded the so-called “spiritual” (or “real”) presence as the specific blessing or benefit of the Lord’s Supper just as it excludes notions of “invisible” church as the “real” church as opposed to the visible assembly gathered around Word and sacrament. By the Holy Spirit the word of the gospel awakens faith and if we want to speak of “spiritual presence,” we are talking about this ministry of the Holy Spirit who makes Jesus Christ “real” to us. But what differentiates the Lord’s Supper is the promised presence of Jesus Christ personally in his own body-and-blood, so that the blessing is not merely privative, the forgiveness of sins, but also positive: life and salvation on account of this specific union with Christ that consists in physical eating and drinking in the common meal of the Lord.
Why does this specificity of Jesus’ bodily presence matter? For one thing, it concerns the identity of Jesus Christ as the very body born of Mary and crucified under Pontius Pilate but vindicated and exalted to be present in his glorified body for the gathering of his faithful. This act of identification is precisely what the Lord’s Supper liturgy depends on, the specific act in the gathering as the church when a specific loaf is picked out with the words, “this is my body given for you….”
I was like “I’ll log back into twitter to catch up on what I missed today” and now I’m depressed. So here’s a link I was coming here to post about virtual communion from a Lutheran standpoint but for similar reasons I agree. (Mainly “est” not “significat”) https://t.co/XVt1IEYLYd
— Marshall (@marshman503) April 3, 2020
Christians are to be encouraged to make their own paper or card ‘palm’ crosses and display these in their windows in a national virtual church service for Palm Sunday to be broadcast by the Church of England.
The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, will put a paper ‘palm’ cross in the window of his Salford home in a national service he will lead for Palm Sunday, marking the start of Holy Week and Easter.
The Holy Communion service will be broadcast at 9am on the Church of England’s Facebook page and Church of England website, with readings from the Archdeacon of Manchester, Karen Lund and prayers by Lucy Hargraves from St Peter’s Church in Bolton. All three record contributions from their own homes in keeping with the rules on physical distancing.
In his sermon, Bishop David will speak of the strength and mutual support from the crowd that he addressed in Manchester city centre following the Manchester Arena attack in 2017
At a time when gatherings are no longer permitted in order to stop the spread of coronavirus, he said support and comfort was being drawn from events such as virtual church services and campaigns such as #ClapForCarers to thank NHS staff and key workers.
— David Walker (@BishManchester) April 2, 2020
A new survey by Barna Research found over the course of just a week, most church leaders went from thinking they’d be back to meeting as usual in late or March or April (52%), to projecting the changes would extend to May or longer (68%).
“There is this realism that’s setting in,” said David Kinnaman, Barna Group president.
But while most pastors are realistic, they’re also optimistic, according to Kinnaman. “One of the cool things about pastors we’ve learned over the years is that they are by job description and by disposition more upbeat, positive, hope-filled people,” he said. “So they are often pretty capable of putting a good face in a tough situation, and they, like other leaders, are going to face a lot of tough decisions in the coming weeks as the crisis continues.”
Though most had already called off normal activities at church, pastors also implemented swift changes in policies around smaller group meetings over the past several days.
The percentage who still allow the church building to be used for “small meetings and gatherings” has dropped by about half (from 18% to 8%), according to Barna’s Church Pulse survey, hearing from 434 Protestant senior pastors and executive pastors in the US. A plurality say the church staff will be working remotely for the foreseeable future (up from 25% to 40%).
Pastors, yes, are worried about how the lack of Sunday services translates into a decrease in giving.
But the biggest concern is congregants: how to care for isolated members from afar and, in worst-case scenarios, how to minister to the sick and dying https://t.co/ww4GNzQlYW
— Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) March 31, 2020
Churches have had to adjust to the demands brought forth by the threat of the coronavirus. Along with having to livestream services with no congregations via social media, churches are having to find ways to make the opportunity of giving available to their congregations.
Many of the local churches are offering newfangled methods for their congregants to give as well as some of the tried-and-true methods.
“We’ve been very intentional about pushing people toward online giving,” said Joseph James, the pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church at 226 W. Liberty St. “We also have a giving app (on iPhones) that is available that we’re asking people to be using.”
James also pointed out that the older members of his congregation send their tithes and offerings through the mail.
“A large part of our congregation is 60 and over, and they are very conscientious about their giving,” he said.
Despite virtual services, Sumter #SouthCarolina members still backing churches financially https://t.co/okYcywrbaT #religion #parishministry #coronavirus #covid19 #publichealth #worship #technology #internet #21stc
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) March 28, 2020
The COVID-19 virus has churches scrambling. In many parts of the world, including North America, many churches have been closed to public worship. Bishops and clergy have been furiously sending out emails and instructions, plotting responses and strategizing about the days ahead. Lists of “10 Things To Do in Your Congregation” are making the rounds. From my observations, I can generalize about elements in these responses. There are outliers, of course, but not that many.
The first thing I see is the insistent call to comfort and be comforting. People are afraid and uncertain, we are told, and they need to be loved and assured. These directives are aimed mostly at clergy, but filter down from them: you can’t hug anybody anymore physically, but you should try to do it in other ways, maybe even “virtually.” Call people up; create email chains; issue little daily meditations of warmth and security. This falls into a kind of “motherly” mode. And with it comes another motherly aspect, which is the disciplinary call to behave: wash your hands; don’t get too close; obey the rules; remember that other people count; be kind; be responsible. All this represents an almost fierce maternalization of the church and especially of her leadership.
The second aspect of our moment’s ecclesial response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a corollary of the first. If bishop and clergy all become “Mom,” everybody else becomes “the kids.” Thus, with the church’s maternalization of leadership comes the Christian people’s infantilization. They’re scared, worried, need direction and hand-holding (well, only metaphorically). They also need to be told how to behave, how to be nice to others, how to organize their time well.
A provocative contrary view about online worship from Ephraim Radner: “When it comes to worship, we might learn to pray alone” https://t.co/5oy6vkBGdG
— Jeff Walton (@jeffreyhwalton) March 20, 2020
On a normal Sunday, most of the 100 people filling the pews of the Rev. Lori Cornell’s congregation fit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s description of those at high risk for COVID-19.
So like the majority of churches in the greater Seattle area, Calvary Lutheran Church of Federal Way has suspended its worship services and is turning to technology not only for its weekly celebration of the Eucharist, but for all the pastoral and social contact an aging congregation depends on church for.
But with social distancing and electronic connections come challenges. Cornell is worried older members of her church may become lonesome.
“They have the potential to feel more isolated than ever, so we’re trying to be really mindful of that,” Cornell said. “My concern is for people whose lives very much count on the church and who find themselves often dependent on other people to get them places they need to go, like Bible study, church and other events.”
Her church’s leadership is using Facebook as a way to stay connected, with plans to post homespun sacred music created by church musicians, and leading video chats throughout the week.
For those not technically savvy, the phone has become an important tool, Cornell said.
Watch it all.
Christ Saint Paul’stakes the health and well being of our parishioners seriously. With the unknown possibilities of the spread of the coronavirus, the Bishop and CSP leadership has decided for the next two weeks, not to hold our regular services and events.
But we do have new and innovative ways to stay connected to our families to share with you!…
No normal services in the Anglican Diocese of #SouthCarolina for the next two weeks https://t.co/K8tN97aFMG #parishministry #lowcountrylife #worship #coronavirus #covid19 #publichealth #religion #usa pic.twitter.com/bFRmZQNYCz
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) March 16, 2020