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The BEMIDJI-Christmas Eve service usually brings a large crowd of people to the local church, but it will not happen this year. You can blame it on the coronavirus pandemic.
However, according to some local pastors, there is a silver lining. Although face-to-face worship will be restricted by 2020, in many cases, the ability of live broadcast services has expanded the reach of the church.
"Overall, we are able to do something meaningful and we are very encouraged," said Jerry Johnson, the chief pastor of Bemidji's Evangelical Free Church, which is scheduled to be held at 6:30 pm and 5 pm on Wednesday. Live and live broadcast Christmas service Thursday afternoon. “For these Christmas Eve services, we may attract people from 8 to 10 different states to participate. Maybe people from the other side of the world usually don’t even think of inviting or joining. From our perspective, the church is more than just Local churches around the world."
The Evangelical Freedom Church filled its shelter with about 500 believers during its Christmas Eve service last year. This year, it will space the chairs apart so that the family can be separated by an appropriate distance. There will be about 180 chairs in the shelter, and 280 chairs in the other three rooms of the whole church to provide both services.
Johnson said: "At these times, our real goal is safety." "We will use big screens to set up three overflow spaces, and the pastor will greet people. They will watch live broadcasts from other spaces in the building, but they will interact with It’s of course very meaningful to watch with others."
Johnson said that what he missed most was the time he provided complete face-to-face service, the time he spent with congregations and visitors.
He said: “It’s amazing how much time you spend 15 minutes before and after the service visiting people.” “I’ve always loved doing this. I only realized how valuable this is and how valuable it is until this year. Meaning. This has always been a priority, but you don’t know what you have until it disappears. We feel it."
Bemidji Covenant is another church that is used to welcoming more than 500 believers to its Christmas Eve service. It will hold services at 4pm and 6pm on Thursdays and can accommodate up to 210 people per person. You need to register through the church's website, and the early service as of Monday is full. There are still some locations for future use on Tuesday. Both services will be broadcast live.
Chief Pastor Todd Ertsgaard said: “We set a ceiling so that we can keep our distance from others and follow the guidelines.” “This has been a crazy year. But (live) is for us. It’s a positive thing. Not only can we obey the needs of our congregation, but we may not be able to connect with others.”
Smaller churches will also be adjusted this Christmas. The Shimi Church plans to conduct two Thursday services at 4:30 and 6:00 pm on Thursdays.
Pastor Chris Hess said: "We are absolutely fighting for it, because for us, our Christmas Eve service is actually one of the biggest services of the year." "It is usually packaged. ."
The service usually features the children of the congregation dressed as a manger scene. But this year, Hess said that asking members to submit videos of their children and share what Christmas means to them, the results are both fun and poignant. These videos will be displayed in both services.
Hess said: "I'm very excited about this." "I think we finally got a dozen videos that we compiled together. We have a family that recorded a manger scene, and a family did a little bit of singing. But they Most of them are just children answering this question, and it's obviously very interesting. The children can say all kinds of things."
Insufficient virtual services-but I will keep going.
About nine months ago, when our Savior Church switched to online services, our family tried to keep everything normal. We let the children wear beautiful Sunday clothes, although we will watch through the screen instead of entering the shelter. We put the chairs in the living room like long chairs. We try to follow, bow at the right time, and pass ourselves at the right moment.
Anyone who has ever participated in a religious ceremony (or any activity) with a child knows that it is a constant struggle to let them sit still, pay attention and not distract the people around them. Pew's every Sunday is a battle of wills. However, if face-to-face service is just a skirmish, then online churches are a war.
My family is a group of outliers. Only 33% of Americans participate in religious ceremonies
As for the rest of the country, about one-third of people go to church about twice a month to several times a year. The last third rarely participates (if any). But no matter which spectrum people fall on, the pandemic has changed the way we experience religion.
After the first Zoom church week, our family gave up church clothes and temporary benches. Everyone's attention fell behind.
Maybe screen fatigue. My child goes to Zoom school. As a professor, I have Zoom teaching.
, We have Zoom marriage, and now we have Zoom Church. Some must be paid.
In July, researchers from Barna, a group dedicated to faith and cultural studies, discovered
In the United States, the number of outbreaks during the pandemic has dropped significantly. I am not surprised. I also experienced a period when I couldn't stand the Zoom service. Instead, we opened the "Common Prayer Book" and worshiped as a family unit.
But this is all we can get-lest we simply shut down these services until the church can gather without restriction.
Indeed, Zoom’s religious services are fundamentally insufficient. This is not a criticism of the great creativity of clergy and non-professional leaders. In a sense, this is an indictment of the true thoughts of what we are looking for in the church, and an opportunity to readjust our views. In a sense, this is because even face-to-face services are insufficient. Everyone who believes in religion knows the first season of passion. People are excited and energized by the newly discovered beliefs; the service seems to be transcendent. But this feeling often disappears and becomes something else.
If the body and physical space are indeed the means by which we try to meet God on earth, then when worship becomes virtual, we will lose immeasurable things. During the festival, this loss becomes more serious. During this festival, the church is usually filled with candles, flowers and flowing clothes. Instead, the choir's booths and seats will be basically empty.
WEB Dubois is known for describing black churches as "missionaries, music and fanatics". As a kind of sociological analysis, this is indeed correct, but for the congregation, there is a fourth element in this mixture: to find the presence of God himself in it.
Almost nothing is more powerful than in front of a black gospel choir. The lead singer of the black choir applauds and has a moving rhythm, proving the power of God. Sometimes, the following choir and missionaries can lift the entire congregation and carry it out. They can be filled with despair and fear with the courage to demand justice.
Nowadays, we have been trying to get along with the virtual worship leader, not the choir.
During the months of pandemic worship, I gradually realized that religious services, by their nature, cannot fulfill their promises. The service tries to bring the finite number of people into the front of the people we consider to be unlimited. What hymn or sermon can capture this? We are chasing the wind. It is counterproductive, implying something on the edge of our perception, but the thing itself does not.
Humans are disappointing, especially those we expect to share our beliefs and values. We saw that other believers failed to show their deep love for each other, and praised strangers in our God Bible. We have witnessed others damaging the deepest values we sacrificed to gain power. Integrity seems to be in short supply. We will participate in services where people are unfriendly, preaching is not good, and music is struggling. We did not meet the transcendent, but reached the limit of human talent.
These frustrations, no matter how big or small, make people ignore their religious beliefs in much the same way that people view the Zoom service. However, why did about one-third of Americans travel to service week after week before the pandemic? Why do some people continue to log in during this period?
We stayed because attending is not about what the church gives us. This is our way of giving something to God. This is a small rebellion, a meaning of life, not just simply gaining more. This is an attempt to become a kind of charity and service life.
Whether it is Zoom or other aspects, the shortcomings of church services remind us that in any case, it means that we will not enter the church to learn how to raise children or learn to be a good American life course. Our goal is bolder. We are trying to meet God, and therefore may find ourselves for the first time.
On a recent weekend, we gathered again at Zoom Church. My wife logs in from her military post, and I log in with my children. I work in the technical support department. Two young children hovered happily on the sofa coloring. When I followed the service, some things surprised me. I looked up from the computer and saw my daughter standing in the middle of the living room. Her gentle, beautiful voice echoed throughout the space. She is singing. I found myself welcoming something that did not fit the description.
January 13, 2021
Caroline Carlson | Rick Courier, the father of the Daily News, blessed the Catholic Church of the Apostles in Escanaba at the Mass on Saint Thomas Holy Sunday.
ESCANABA —Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance at churches in many areas has fallen.
Said Pastor Rick Curiel of Saint Anthony of Padua Catholicism of Wales and Saint Thomas Catholic of Escanaba. He believes that at least until the spring, the attendance will not increase.
The local church has undergone technical renovations and adopted out-of-the-box ideas to keep in touch with parish residents. Many people have added online services, and pastors and pastors are communicating with people at home, hospitals, and nursing homes over the phone instead of in person.
Many churches have added live streaming online services to their websites, Facebook and YouTube accounts. Some churches, such as the Methodist Church in Gladstone, have switched to online services only. The pastor of the church, Cathy Rafferty, said that the opening and closing was crazy, so the church decided to focus on technology for service, meetings, and Bible study.
Lafferty said that the number of views on Facebook and You Tube has been high and is actually higher than the attendance of the Sunday service before COVID-19. Although she said it is difficult to know how many people have watched the content online, Lafferty admitted that the problem will not disappear completely during the face-to-face service.
Lafferty says that moving services online has only its benefits. For example, those in her congregation who often leave the area in cold weather to get a warm climate can now keep in touch with them online. Lafferty also noticed more family worship because family members can watch replays of the service together at a time that works for everyone.
The messenger said that before the pandemic, the people of the age who studied in person were mixed. However, it is now possible to broadcast live on Facebook at 9 am. He said that the face-to-face participants are often elderly people, which may be because they do not want to deal with technology. All participants in Saint Anthony and Saint Thomas wear masks and maintain social distancing.
After being closed for eight weeks in the spring of 2020, Buck River Bible Church resumed its pre-COVID-19 services. Adapt to social distance. The church also offers online options, although Cochrane said it is difficult to estimate the number of virtual attendees.
In terms of other trends, donations to many churches are declining. The messenger said that many church members have been generous in mailing their donations, although the decline is small, but because they do not provide social activities other than church services, expenses have been reduced and they have been balanced.
In response to the current fundraising challenges facing churches, many churches are becoming creative. Lafferty said that due to the inability to obtain the on-the-job collections, the Memorial Methodist Church produced a tour of the tabletop nativity scenes of the cohabitants during Christmas and brought a collection box that benefited Heifer International. . This event successfully raised funds, and the participants appreciated the display and tranquility of the beautifully decorated church. She added that this is a good way to allow the community to gather during Christmas and maintain safety precautions.
The originality has also helped some churches hold Christmas elections in 2020 while maintaining social distancing. The group went to church on different days and recorded their part in production with video. Then make these parts into a video of the complete story. Judy Raygo, secretary of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Minomin, said that this process was very effective for their congregation.
Rafferty's church is also one of the participants of the 2020 Christmas division competition. He said that there are more children participating this year than in the past (about 20) because there is no need to participate on Christmas Eve.
Creativity also extends to religious education. Teachers not only use online courses, but also take turns to produce videos for students. Rafferty’s religious educators are incorporating videos of children reading scriptures into the service of the entire congregation. St. Anthony and St. Thomas’ administrative assistant Beth Svilland said that parents are particularly satisfied with the combination of confirming the course structure, online video and exercise book exercises because it provides parents with the opportunity to discuss the course with teenagers.
Both the pastor and the pastor said that the inability to visit the elderly and those in the hospital in person is painful for everyone involved.
Lafferty said. Last spring, members of the Lafferty congregation held a parade to drive past the homes of community members for health reasons, isolating them from the world. The recipients receive a call to let them know when the parade will end. The planners of the military parade planted slogans in the yard of the consignee and waved kind slogans on passing cars, for example,
Those who can sit in the chairs on the lawn and wave the parade happily.
The messenger priest said that the priests were still allowed to do their own salutes in the nursing home, which was an anointing for the dying. In this case, wear gowns and other personal protective equipment.
Regarding other social events, church weddings were rarely held under the restrictions of the pandemic, and those weddings greatly restricted attendance and were usually restricted to immediate family members. Weather permitting, the church has always held funerals outdoors and served as a grave. Some families only hold small indoor funeral services accompanied by their immediate family members, and plan to hold public gatherings in the future when restrictions are lifted.
More than one church has turned to funeral events with limited online attendance so that extended families can (even if in fact) participate in the experience.
Rafferty said that such joint ceremonies had been held in his church.
In the churches inquired, no one felt that people were moving away from religious worship. On the contrary, it seems that a consensus has been reached, and people are now more than ever seeking contact with the spiritual congregation.
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"Please come faithfully," but bringing lawn chairs and masks may be an invitation to the Roosevelt Church's Christmas Eve service, which is adapted to the No.19 limit of Roosevelt Church.
Faithful believers will follow the luminous body, the lights that are isolated from the society on the lawn of St. Michael Lutheran Church, put down their chairs, enjoy the brisk evening service, and take "silent night" as a high-profile, not hum Sing to prevent the spread of infection.
Its children’s beauty contest went online this weekend, with Mary, Joseph and others performing in front of their home computers. Their youth minister mixed scenes and added the background of Bethlehem, giving people an illusion of unity.
Churches in Minnesota have been closed due to the coronavirus since March, and many churches are busy offering ideas to celebrate this unusual holiday. Christmas religious activities are usually the most attended activities of the year. Faith leaders say how to maintain precious family traditions within the pandemic has always been a challenge and an opportunity for growth.
"This frees you from the old patterns and allows new things to emerge." said Brad Froslee, the pastor of St. Michael's Church. "This produces a kind of energy, but it is also very exhausting."
Last spring, many churches launched online services, but they never imagined that they would have to fabricate a new world of virtual holiday choirs, children’s beauty contests, Advent wreath lights and so on.
Although Catholic churches and non-denominational churches have reopened their doors with limited seats, most mainstream Protestant churches remain closed. These include one of the largest Lutheran churches in the United States, Olived Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the pastor and fellow initiates have only met a few times.
Usually in the week before Christmas, Mount Olivet will prepare 17 services, 14,000 visitors and dozens of traffic directors to let people in and out of Minneapolis and Victoria.
This year, the beautiful 1,000-seat Minneapolis Church will be empty and the hall will be silent. Instead, members can watch the recorded Christmas service at any time, and end the live broadcast by "Silent Night" before 11pm on Christmas Eve in a live broadcast.
Recognizing the need for connection in real life, Mount Olivet hosted a Sunday outdoor party this month. The staff hung flashing lights in the parking lot, built a towering Christmas tree in the center, and added some golden angels. Last week, cars lined up on the street waiting to enter the station.
They walked to the door of the church one by one, and the masked priest and staff greeted them. They dropped food for Oliver's Hill’s free meal plan, picked up candles and communion elements to take home.
Highlights: Stick your head out of the car window and exchange greetings with church leaders.
"Hello, nice to meet you!" Senior Pastor David Lose said, bending over to talk to the window.
For Bob Rustvold (Bob Rustvold) and his daughter Lori (Lori) arrived together, the event was really bittersweet. The 97-year-old from Edina has been a member of Mount Olivet for nearly 70 years. This will be his first Christmas Eve away from the beloved church.
But Rustvolds, like hundreds of other people passing by, was in high spirits. Lori Rustvold, who drove from Savage, said: "This is a good idea."
Church leaders are obviously also happy to see familiar faces. But earlier this week, Lose admitted that this off-social holiday is very difficult for staff and church members.
Lowe said: "When people no longer need faith, you are balancing the absolute need for safety." "This is a year of loss and dream shattered.... This has taken us beyond our imagination."
The children’s beauty pageant depicting Mary and Joseph’s arrival in Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus is a highlight of religious groups and is often a hot topic among them. Despite some twists and turns, the church this year has found a way to maintain this tradition.
Most beauty pageants have become virtual, and many scripts have been redesigned. At the Lutheran Peace Church in Maplewood, Mary and Joseph (just quarantined) are looking for a place to stay. Check hotels, Airbnbs and Bethlehem.com. Mary talked about the bad Airbnb where her friend lived, and Joseph replied: "At least this is not a stable room."
St. Mary’s Cathedral has reshaped its annual “Light of Christmas Music for Children in the World” with COVID-19 prevention measures by allowing individual families to perform musical works in masks in the huge cathedral. The little bean pods of several friends who have spent time also performed in the virtual concert, which was edited by the staff.
The St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi did not participate in the beauty pageant at the "Through Christmas" event held on December 6, but it also included live broadcasts and donkeys, as well as carols, poems and works of art.
Fifth grader Jonny LeRoux plays the Virgin Mary in a virtual pageant of St. Michael. Last weekend, her parents used adhesive tape to put a screen on the wall behind the kitchen island. Jonnie sat in front of the computer and did her duty without focusing on Joseph. They will be edited together later.
After participating in other children’s beauty pageants, Jonny himself thought it was better. But she likes to redo the scene if she makes a mistake. In addition, this year, "I have more lines," she said. "This is good."
Minnesota churches are providing on-site service for Christmas, and they are also changing. Many people, including large evangelical churches, such as the River Valley Church in Apple Valley, require pre-registration. Some, such as the cathedral, have allocated seats. All need masks. All need to be alienated.
Everyone is trying to accommodate as many people as possible.
Pastor Mike Carlson stated that St. Andrew’s Church will begin service one day earlier on December 23, and that its main 1,000 church buildings have a maximum attendance of 200 people. Services between the church and the auditorium will alternate for cleaning. , The chief pastor.
Carlson said: "People miss their communities." Carlson and employees check with every church member this season. "We will create this in any way."
Keeping the people of the people in touch with the church is the top priority this season. Some churches that have been closed in the past 10 months were open for a few hours a day last week for quiet contemplation.
The Lutheran Peace Church is among them. However, realizing that many people are worried about health risks, an alternative church was created next to the parking lot. In front of the lit nativity scene, a sandwich board announced "Drive to the church, open 24/7".
Pastor Liz Ed said: "This is an opportunity to keep the church open 24/7. It is an opportunity to give people a place to stop and know that they are not alone."
Ed thought of a woman who had only been to two places since the pandemic: her house and her car. She said that the humble church "is the destination," knowing that someone is nearby.
On Christmas Eve, Ed and many of her congregations will gather under the tree outside the church, which is the most unusual Christmas ever. Wearing masks, they will hold light sticks and sing "Silent Night" softly instead of on-site service. People can watch online and worship at home.
This impromptu Christmas tradition will unfold across the country this week to celebrate a story full of hope-faith leaders say it is very much needed today.
Frosley said: "The story of the birth of Jesus is about people of all ages coming from all directions and ending in a miracle." "In this pandemic, it seems that it is almost done now."
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