Lakecity churches are making adjustments across the board to how their parishioners worship to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing.
While restrictions on daily life are beginning to tighten as the public and government response to the pandemic continues to ramp up, churches and other places of religious worship have yet to be ordered to close their doors. Despite this fact, churches in Williams Lake are already taking precautions to protect their parishioners and the wider public.
At Sacred Heart Parish in Williams Lake, Father Paul Simms is currently still deciding how best to proceed in the midst of this rapidly changing situation. While alternative mass times have been discussed, Sacred Heart advises parishioners to keep an eye on their website at https://www.sacredheartwl.ca/ for updates on their plans. On Thursday, March 19 the church sent out an email officially announcing the cancellation of Sunday mass for the foreseeable future.
At St. Andrew’s United Church, meanwhile, reverend Nancy Colton said that their executive board made the decision on Tuesday, March 17 to suspend service until April 15. At that time the executive will evaluate if it’s safe to resume normal church services. As a result, Colton said that all rentals at the church are also suspended until April 15 when the board will evaluate them.
Cariboo Bethel Church is taking COVID-19 as an opportunity to expand and enhance its online presence, lead pastor Jeremy Vogt said, while keeping their faith community engaged in church activities. Vogt said that, like St. Andrew’s, worship on Sunday is suspended in the brick and mortar church and instead will be live-streamed on Cariboo Bethel’s new Vimeo account.
Likewise, they will be encouraging the use of Zooms Rooms, an online video conference call service, Vogt said for prayer groups and other small church groups.
The Cariboo Bethel website is also being upgraded and overhauled to provide their community with more resources to connect with one another.
Vogt said he is also in the process of organizing and training a Williams Lake detachment of ‘Shopping Angels’ in the vein of groups based out the United States.
This group will be volunteering to buy groceries and vital supplies for people at risk of the virus or who are currently self-isolating, Vogt said, by picking up money and shopping lists from client’s homes and dropping off the requested items.
He’d like to stress this is for errands of necessity only and invites anyone in need of their services or wish to volunteer to call him at 250-267-4998.
Overall, Vogt said they’re trying to keep the community safe and his parish’s relationship with God strong during these trying times.
“People of faith, not fear, people of peace, not panic,” Vogt said.