This is the first weekend since Seattle-King County Public Health recommended avoiding “large gatherings” to try to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). So that’s forced a difficult decision for churches and other faith-based groups/institutions – houses of worship are not just gathering places, they’re also high-touch environments, from handshakes to Holy Communion. We’ve heard from some directly, and those with changes/cancellations are on our ongoing list, but here’s a closer look at what some are doing:
Back on Thursday, West Seattle’s three UCC churches – Admiral, Alki, and Fauntleroy – issued a joint announcement that they would cancel services for the next three weeks. “As part of the wider community, we have the opportunity to potentially make a positive impact upon the spread of this coronavirus through our actions, our influence and our care,” said Fauntleroy UCC pastor Rev. Leah Atkinson Bilinski. (A reader tipped us while we were writing this that Fauntleroy UCC has decided to stream on 2 platforms including Twitch tomorrow morning.)
Tibbetts United Methodist Church (WSB sponsor) is cancelling tomorrow’s service. “We will reassess next week on what to do for the following Sunday. … Please pray for one another and our neighbors as we navigate this uncharted territory together,” said pastor Rev. Sarah Casey.
Hope Lutheran Church also announced it’s canceling tomorrow’s service, but promising that its website will feature “an online worship experience … including worship music, a message from Pastor Peter, and an opportunity to pray for the people of our congregation and community.”
The churches that are planning to go live online include Westside Unitarian Universalist, planning a “virtual service” via the platform Zoom. The announcement notes, “We are practicing a new way of worshipping together, responding to public health concerns. We give thanks for the gifts of an emergent faith tradition that can sustain us in times of mystery.”
Others already stream as a supplement to their in-person services, and Arbor Heights Community Church is one that plans to do both tomorrow as usual. For those attending in person, they’re making a few changes such as suspending snack service.
Trinity West Seattle is also going ahead with in-person worship while also offering a live stream. No communion, no baked goods and coffee, and they’re not even passing the offering basket, according to this update.
At West Seattle Christian Church, they’re using “k-cup individual sealed communion cups (wafer & juice),” and their snack bar will either focus on individually wrapped snacks on food and coffee “served by a volunteer wearing gloves.” WSCC adds in its message, “We are prepared, if necessary, to go to an online worship service only …”
The communion challenge is one that Catholic churches are dealing with too. The specifics are on pages like this one for Our Lady of Guadalupe, which not only notes changes to Mass practices, but also points out that the holy-water font has been drained.
For more church changes, see our ongoing list of West Seattle cancellations/postponements/changes – and if/when you have something to add, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our hotline, text/voice, 206-293-6302.