There is no question that COVID-19 has posed a significant challenge to many communities in many different ways. It seems like there is not one facet of life that has not been affected by the pandemic. While a person’s faith ultimately boils down to their personal relationship with a higher power, a large part of many people’s faith lies in their community.
To have that community taken away, even temporarily, can be gravely disturbing for many. What is inspiring, however, is witnessing what lengths the communities have risen to the challenge.
Meeting the Challenges of a Pandemic
During the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, churches across the country were forced to close. The risks to public health were too significant to ignore, and there were, sadly, instances of churches that refused to close that then suffered devastating losses among both congregation and clergy.
It would be easy to suggest that people today are in a much better position to meet the challenge of places of worship needing to close their physical doors. Thanks to advanced communications technology available to us in 2020, staying in contact with one another is relatively simple. That said, worshipers in 1918 had their options as well.
Local newspapers partnered with local religious institutions to present liturgical discussions, pieces on hope, faith, and calls for patience and strength during trying times. Even the relatively new business of telephone companies got involved by arranging dial-in services with some churches and helped clergy reach out to congregants via telephone to offer support and guidance.
Leveraging technology to connect the faithful to their communities is nothing new. It may look a little different now, but the overall lesson is how human beings can adapt to nearly any situation.
Longmont’s Communities of Faith
When people need each other most of all in terms of physical assistance and spiritual support, Longmont’s religious and spiritual institutions have stepped up in a way that can inspire anyone—no matter their faith or denomination.
We reached out to several religious institutions here in the Longmont area to find out how they have risen to meet the challenge of COVID-19 in conducting services, serving their community, and reaching out to others.
The vast majority of houses of worship offer online services for people to log into and attend, as well as separate devotional videos that congregants can view at any time. As 2020 reels into 2021, many of the technical bugs have been worked out, and individual church websites have pages dedicated to instructions on how to virtually attend services and take advantage of other online offerings.
For instance, Bethlehem Lutheran broadcasts livestream services via YouTube, which can be viewed not only on most computers but also on mobile phones, tablets, smart TVs, and other smart home devices. Messiah Lutheran offers the same services and has an excellent page at their website listing other online resources for congregants to peruse.
The United Church of Christ Longmont offers access to worship services via Zoom—video conferencing software available for numerous platforms and popular for its ease of use. To do their part in containing the spread of COVID-19, their staff works remotely but strives to keep lines of communication always open and available.
While the Chabad Jewish Center of Longmont holds COVID-safe in-person Shabbat services with masks and social distancing, they reach out to their community with an informative online newsletter and Zoom gatherings. They also offer virtual house calls for those interested in studying the Torah, Jewish history, philosophy, or mysticism in the comfort and safety of their own homes.
While the Islamic Center of Boulder has resumed in-person daily prayers, they have clear COVID-safe policies in place to reduce the risk of infection to its members and community. These include requiring masks and socks, maintaining six-foot social distancing, requiring attendees to bring their own prayer mats and perform wudhu (ritual cleansing) at home, sign-ins, and remaining home if feeling sick.
As with many institutions during this time, the Longmont Buddhist Temple is not currently open for in-person interaction. Just the same, they offer their sangha (congregation) services every Sunday morning via Zoom, along with a question-and-answer session and time for fellowship. They intend to conduct virtual services until the pandemic has safely passed.
The Longmont Buddhist Temple finds the virtual approach an excellent one to keep connected with local members of the sangha and those individuals who have moved out of the area. They note that Buddhist temples across the country, like many other places of devotion, have found great success in maintaining a strong community online.
Reaching Out to the Community
Thanks in part to the internet and in larger part to the dedication of religious leaders and organizations in the area, the people of Longmont can continue to feel spiritually connected to their faiths. Many find cooperation and common ground with their neighbors to ensure that as many people as possible make it through the other side of this pandemic.
Start with checking out the website for the place of worship of your choice and see what they have to offer. If they have virtual services available, you’ll find instructions on how to participate. If you find yourself in need of support, either spiritually or physically, you’ll find resources you can follow up on.
Each institution we reached out to urges members of the community at large to reach out to them at any time. They’re only an e-mail or a phone call away.
Just because we’re in the midst of one of the most severe pandemics since 1918 doesn’t mean we can’t come together and support each other and find support amongst one another.