Coronavirus moves worship to the web in Westport
WESTPORT — Due to closures to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, local religious institutions have taken innovative approaches to deliver their services to the community.
“We don’t want to convey the sense that the church is closed,” said Jonathan Bennett, pastor at Christ and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church of Westport. “We’re constitutionally wired to connect. That’s who we are as a church.”
Bennett’s church is one of many religious organizations in town that are live-streaming their services to keep the community connected amid the pandemic.
At Christ and Holy Trinity Church, Bennett said a nightly 7 p.m. service is posted on the church’s Facebook, and the church live-streams its Sunday service on YouTube at 9:30 a.m. The services are also recorded and then broadcasted for people to watch.
“As a colleague of mine said ... I’m paying attention to science and I’m praying for wisdom,” Bennett said. “I feel like we have a voice in the middle fo this and that voice is the voice of a loving God, and the constancy of God’s love in the midst of the craziness of life.”
Bennett said the goal is to provide a sense of calmness during a difficult time for the world, whie offering tools to pray and reflect.
“That may be one of the small silver linings — you always find something in the midst of adversity,” he said. “It’s not like we’re just trying to give stuff to people to do; we’re trying to engage where people are spiritually in their lives.”
Similarly, Saugatuck Congregational Church has made the move to virtual services in the past week. The two religious institutions, like many, are also continuing to work with nonprofits to help the less fortunate.
Parishioners are finding other unique ways to connect in a time of social distancing.
“This week we’re hosting a bring-your-own-coffee on Zoom (video conferencing app)” Buttrick Patton said. “We’re getting together at 11 a.m. for prayers, updates and a little bit of human contact.”
With closures of various businesses across town, she noted residents are experiencing loss on several levels.
“We’re grieving even if we’re fortunate enough to stay healthy from the virus itself,” she said.
As the Saugatuck church has adapted to challenging times, Buttrick Patton admitted the rapidly evolving situation has pushed the institutions to be creative in delivering their services. But even so, she said, a community working together can overcomes these obstacles.
“It’s hard to think about not gathering in person, but what we came to recognize is that sometimes loving your neighbor means staying home to protect those that are vulnerable,” she said. “It takes all of us in solidarity to get the better of this virus.”