Churches resort to online methods to continue services

PHOTO: Many believers have been spending more time with their families to read the Bible during the stay-at-home order.

By Priscilla Lee, Editor–

President Trump declared churches “essential” and advocated for the startup of in-person meetings on May 22. Then, on May 25, Gov. Gavin Newsom and California health officials released a 13-page document outlining the guidelines for the reopening of church services. 

To keep the social distancing constraints, religious services are required to cap attendance at 25 percent of building capacity or 100 attendees, whichever is lower, for the first 21 days upon reopening. Other protective measures include providing masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and other disinfecting products to visitors. Singing and rituals that could potentially spread body particles are discouraged.

Yolo County is allowing places of worship to reopen on May 29 as part of stage two in the Roadmap to Recovery, but strongly encourages congregations to continue online services.

Locally, Zoom and Youtube appear to be the most popular platforms parishioners have been using to continue their services amidst the stay-at-home order.

Davis Chinese Christian Church’s fellowship meetings on Saturday start off with activity time, then move into a general message on a book in the Bible and breakout sessions via Zoom. Although activities such as indoor volleyball have now been replaced by an hour of, a drawing and guessing game, junior high and high school students are still glad they can meet together virtually.

DCCC provides Sunday sermons in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. In addition to these, Davis High junior Amanda Kwok has occasionally been listening to American pastor Joel Osteen’s sermons on Youtube.

Discovery Christian Church believes that meeting together as a church is important in not only building friendships, but celebrating what God is doing in and through each member. 

“We do not believe church is a building or an event that we ‘go to’ or attend, but a community that we are part of, and that community can move, grow, and function in many different ways,” lead pastor Steve Boutry said.

For many people, church acts as a refuge from all the suffering and loss during the pandemic.

“I just feel like I have a very good support system,” said sophomore Serena Wang, a member of the Church in Davis. Open to everyone, this group has also been conducting meetings on Zoom throughout the week.

Boutry feels that as Jesus followers, the Discovery Christian Church wants to “lead with love,” which means continuing to minimize large gatherings until the environment is safer. Other churches share this sentiment and are wary of meeting in-person just yet.

This unprecedented time has led many worshippers to be grateful for the times where they were unrestricted in practicing faith, and many are praying more desperately. 

“Right now lots of people are dealing with […] being laid off or maybe their loved ones are like sick so going to church could like help them cope and […] just help them meet with people who actually care about them and who will pray for them,” Kwok said.

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