HUMBOLDT — Members of Humboldt faith communities are finding new ways to connect with their parishioners as COVID-19 keeps everyone at home.
Social media presence and digital meeting platforms are making engaging with parishioners even easier as faith leaders, and even members of their congregations, create videos to share their faith and digitally get together with their members.
Rev. Matteo Carboni of the St. Andrew’s Anglican Church and Ron Marshall of the Seventh Day Adventist Church have both taken the Zoom meeting route for engaging with their congregation, with Marshall doing it on Saturday mornings and Carboni on Sundays.
“It gives a little more personal interaction between people,” Carboni said. “From the faith side of things, there’s a reason why people come to church every Sunday. It’s a chance for them to pray in a community.”
Praying together also gives people hope and reassurance that everything will be okay, Carboni said.
Marshall said even though things are changing and services aren’t taking place in a building, that we have to adjust to this new way of meeting, that we have to be flexible and open-minded.
“Just because we’re not meeting in a building doesn’t mean we’re not going to stop us from trying to help others, both within the family and the people around us the best we can.”
Marshall is also using this time to connect with his congregation through phone and messaging. A lot of them are alone and isolated, he said, so he is calling and checking in on them a lot more than before COVID-19.
Marshall is also pre-recording his sermons and posting them online, but this is a challenging experience for him because Seventh Day Adventist services normally involve a lot of interaction with the congregation. Recording it on his own is very different, he said.
Rev. Brenda Curtis of the Westminster United Church said the technology is working for lots of people but does consider other options for people who are not connected, like phone and making drop-offs. Even Curtis said it has been a learning experience for her as she’s learned to engage differently with her congregation.
“We’re taking up the call and trying to do what we can to engage with our folks and give them hope.”
It has been challenging but an interesting experience finding connection, especially around Easter time, Curtis said. Talking with people around the faith community, Curtis said she has heard stories of people finding authentic connections with family instead of just having an Easter with too much chocolate.
“We’re not alone,” she said. “God is with us.”
Especially for Easter services, Curtis said more people connected together online than they’ve ever had physically in the church. People appreciate having these opportunities, she said.
Pastor Clint Magnus of St. John’s Lutheran Church has taken to Facebook to post a full service with scripture readings and sermons, as well as bible study videos for people to watch whenever they are able. Members of his congregation also posted children’s liturgy and musical worship videos.
This is a time when people are more likely to turn to their faith, Magnus said, so faith communities need to proclaim their hope and the good word. Magnus had already been posting his sermons online before churches were closed because of COVID-19. Since the closure of the church, Magnus said his videos are getting a lot more views, going from around 40 views to 2,000.
“There’s a hunger and a need,” he said.
Minister Araba Quaye with Humboldt’s Living Word Church International said they have started using social media as well as calling members of their congregation in order to connect with their faith community.
“I’m finding that the videos seem to get more feedback, and not just from our congregation but others who are in the community or other countries. The reach is incredible.”
There is still that need for connecting, Quaye said, and we would be in trouble without having these abilities to connect. Spiritual health is just as important as physical and mental health, she said, and she is happy the church is able to offer that.
Local services online
- St. Andrew’s Anglican Church - contact Rev. Carboni for Zoom meeting details
- Seventh Day Adventist Church - contact Rev. Marshall Zoom meeting details
- Westminster United Church - website
- St. John’s Lutheran Church - Facebook
- Living Word Church International - Facebook
- Humboldt Bible Church - Website and YouTube
- St. Augustine Church - Befriend them on Facebook by searching St-Augustine Parish Humboldt, but videos produced are made public
- Humboldt Bridges Ministry International - Facebook