Faith Communities Respond To COVID-19 With Streaming Services, Expanded Online Presence; Some Still Meeting
In light of the pandemic brought on by COVID-19, houses of worship have been rethinking and reconfiguring their celebrations and services.
The following represents houses of worship that have contacted us or posted publicly their current worship plans.
With schedules changing rapidly, a call ahead to the locations included below is still a good idea.
BEACON HILL CHURCH
371 Old Zoar Road, Monroe;
Don Beachy, Senior Pastor
Beacon Hill Church is offering live streamed services each weekend; links to a recording will also be posted on the church's Facebook page as available.
AWAMA is on hiatus as long as Monroe schools are closed; Community Bible Study for women is meeting via Skype. Contact the church office for additional information.
444 Main Street North, Southbury
Rabbi Eric Polokoff
The congregation is taking “a two-week pause,” it announced on its website, and will hold no regular events in its building until at least after March 29.
CHRIST THE KING LUTHERAN CHURCH
85 Mt Pleasant Road (at Tory Lane), Newtown
Pastor Rob Morris Home of Maggie the Comfort Dog
Christ the King Lutheran Church hosted a service, which was also live streamed, on March 15.
In addition, Pastor Rob Morris has announced that noon services will also be offered this week.
“The services will be simple and are intended as a chance to pause during your day, to gaze on the cross, and to be reassured of the hope that is ours in Christ,” he said via e-mail to his parishioners that afternoon. There will be no greeters, and those who attend can enter the church with no close contact, “find a safe corner in the sanctuary, and spend some minutes in God’s presence in the midst of our complicated lives.”
Streaming and previous services can be found on YouTube at Christ the King Lutheran Church. As of March 17, Confirmation class and Lenten Services were still planned, but Pastor Morris does encourage members to call before visiting the church or checking its website (ctklutherannewtown.org/) for the latest updates.
In his Pastoral Letter of March 18, Pastor Morris said the church’s current policy “will allow each person to make the decision which is most faithful to your own circumstances, without anyone having to give up gathering together. That decision can be made, not in fear, but in power, love, and self-control.
“As of right now,” he continued, “our gatherings are not expected to exceed the current governor’s executive order of 50 or fewer at gatherings — and our church is large enough to provide plenty of safe space for even more than that. If it looks likely that we would exceed the current executive order at any time, we will add additional services and ask people to sign up online for their preferred service time.”
CONGREGATION ADATH ISRAEL
115 Huntingtown Road, Newtown
(Mailing address: PO Box 623, Newtown CT 06470)
Rabbi Barukh Schectman
Congregation Adath Israel held its regular Kabbalat service on March 13. It had hoped to continue hosting services, deciding on a week to week basis what to do in light of the current pandemic.
The synagogue announced on its website on March 18, however, that all services, classes and activities are canceled until further notice.
Meets at Newtown Meeting House, 31 Main Street
(Mailing Address: PO Box 27, Southbury CT 06488)
Pastor Adam Watt (203-917-7481)
Pastor Adam Watt told The Newtown Bee on March 17 that a prayer meeting will take place on March 22. The church hosts interdenominational evangelical church services on Sundays at 10 am.
FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST
27 Roxbury Road, Southbury (corner of Routes 6 and 67);
Services had been scheduled to continue until further notice, according to a representative at the church on March 17. The church's website has since been updated with a note that indicates church leaders have "decided to pause our Sunday Services, Wednesday Meetings, and Reading Room activities through April 30."
GOOD SHEPHERD LUTHERAN CHURCH
466 Elm Street, Monroe
Pastor Doug Ryniewicz
As of March 13, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church was encouraging its members to take precautions, but services were continuing as scheduled.
The church's website has since been updated, noting all services are temporarily canceled.
GRACE FAMILY CHURCH
13 Covered Bridge Road, Newtown
Reverend Adam Fredericks, Senior Pastor
Reverend Barry Fredericks & Reverend Sheila Fredericks, Founding & Teaching Pastors
All services are currently canceled, a staff member told The Newtown Bee this week.
On its website, the church has posted a note that members “will not be meeting together for a little while. We will be taking this week by week and Trust God we will be able to come together very soon!”
A church that has long been able to take advantage of technology, Grace Family Church has plenty of services, messages, and blog posts already published. More will be added.
THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF WESTERN CONNECTICUT
444 Main Street North, Southbury CT 06488; jfed.net
The Jewish Federation of Western CT announced March 20 that all Federation events, including Love & Knishes and mahjong, have been canceled through the end of April.
“Please don’t hesitate to contact us for any reason,” staff said via email. “Our building is closed, our Federation is not.”
Staff is working remotely, and can be reached via email: Pauline Zimmerman, president, Jewish Federation of Western CT, firstname.lastname@example.org; Cathy Conti, programming coordinator, email@example.com; and Pamela Perkins, administrative assistant, firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEWTOWN CHRISTIAN CHURCH
210 Sugar Street, Newtown
Reverend Jack Tanner, Minister
All services are canceled until March 29.
NEWTOWN CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
A member of the United Church of Christ
14 West Street, Newtown
203-426-9024, 203-426-9600; newtownctchurch.org
Reverend Matthew S. Crebbin, Senior Pastor
Reverend Kristen Provost Switzer, Minister of Youth & Mission
Newtown Congregational Church announced last week that it would offer live streaming services for at least two Sundays, beginning March 15. Senior Pastor Matt Crebbin, Minister of Youth & Mission Kristen Provost Switzer and organist Phil Crevier offered the first service last weekend, from the Sanctuary of the 14 West Street church. Parishioners and the public can view the live stream through YouTube by searching for NCC-CT.
The church on March 17 also announced that it would begin a weekly Christian Education lesson for children and young adults via Facebook Live. The programs will begin at 1 pm. They will also be posted to the church’s Facebook page upon completion.
On Wednesday, Rev Provost Switzer announced she would continue the Weekly Confirmation Classes online and the Weekly Youth Group, also online; both will be done through e-mail and private online groups,
“The truth remains that whether we are gathered or scattered, we will find ways to continue all of the wonderful services that NCC provides, including the Christian education and formation of our children and youth,” Rev Provost Switzer told the church’s members through an e-mail blast.
“In the meantime,” she added, “ I continue to pray for each of you and look forward to when we can gather in Christian fellowship once more.”
NEWTOWN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
We are a Stephen Ministry Church
92 Church Hill Road, Sandy Hook
Reverend Lori Miller, Pastor
Reverend E. Sue Klein, Deacon
NUMC Pastor Lori Miller announced last week that the town’s Methodist church would offer a live stream of its 8 and 10 am Sunday worship services through at least Sunday, March 27. The church’s sanctuary is closed.
SOUTH BRITAIN CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
A United Church of Christ
693 South Britain Road (Route 172), South Britain
(Mailing address: PO Box 64, South Britain 06487)
Reverend David Buchan, Bridge Interim Minister
No Sunday service until further notice. Recent sermons are being posted online; contact the church office for additional information.
STEPNEY BAPTIST CHURCH
423 Main Street, Monroe
Reverend Kevin Merritt, Senior Pastor
Liz Merritt, Associate Pastor
Mark Persson, Youth Minister
As of March 13, Stepney Baptist was holding Sunday service as normal, but coffee hour is canceled; check its Facebook page (facebook.com/StepneyBaptist) for updates.
Those planning to attend are asked to avoid shaking hands and hugging. Those who are unwell are asked to stay home until they fell “100% well,” the church posted on its Facebook page March 13, adding “please feel absolutely no condemnation if you’d rather stay home.”
The church hopes to live stream its service by March 22.
ST PAUL’S CHURCH
174 Whisconier Road, Brookfield Center
Reverend Joseph Shepley, Rector
St Paul’s Church is a welcoming community that worships, serves, studies and lives out the love of God and life together as a spiritual family centered upon Christ. “It feels like home” is what we often hear as someone walks through our open Red Doors. We are traditional and contemporary in worship, local and global in vision and loving and connecting in mission. You are welcome here.
NOTE: Sunday services, as of March 17, will be online (contemporary worship) via Facebook and YouTube For those who would like to receive Holy Communion, extra sacrament (bread dipped in wine) will be consecrated during the online service and will then be distributed by drive-thru in the parking lot at 11 am.
Sunday PraiseHike will depart from the Pond Brook Boat Launch parking lot, on Hanover Road near the Brookfield-Newtown town line, at 1 pm; moderate hike, approximately 3 miles, and 450 foot elevation gain; contact David Szen for details, 917-226-9136.
PraiseWalks will meet in the fresh air of the Still Hill Greenway, at the Old Hearth Restaurant, Monday through Friday at 5:45 pm, Saturday at 11 am; easy 3-mile loop with 131 foot elevation gain, suitable for all levels and speeds of walking; contact Elsa Cutting (203-240-3329) or Mary Perry (203-994-0643) for details.
Saturday PraiseMoves will meet online through Zoon at 10 am; contact Mary Perry for sign-in info (203-994-0643).
ST ROSE OF LIMA CHURCH
46 Church Hill Road, Newtown
Monsignor Robert E. Weiss, Pastor
Reverend Alphonse Arokiam, Parochial Vicar
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has temporarily suspended the obligation to attend Sunday Mass in the Diocese of Bridgeport for the next three weeks, through the Fifth Sunday of Lent (March 28-29). The Mass schedule of parishes will continue throughout the diocese, according to a notice issued March 13.
In his letter, Bishop Caggiano noted he took the action “so that anyone who may be fearful of becoming ill or of spreading illness, especially healthcare workers, caregivers to the elderly or infirm, or parents with young children, may have peace of mind in knowing that, with this provision, they do not commit mortal sin if they choose not to attend Sunday Mass.”
The Bishop did request that those who refrain from attending Mass during this period “treat the Lord’s Day with the honor it deserves and try, to the best of their ability, to view Mass online or to make time to read the Scriptures for the day.”
St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church began offering live streaming of its Masses through its YouTube page (St Rose of Lima Church). The Mass schedule until further notice is 6:45 am Monday through Friday; 4 pm Saturday; and 10:30 am Sunday. Visit the church’s website for links to live streams and previous Mass presentation.
TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
36 Main Street, Newtown
The Reverend Doctor Jennifer Glaze Montgomery, Interim Priest In Charge
Reverend Matt Babcock, Curate
During this time of COVID-19 social distancing, the town’s Episcopal church will be offering online worship to all. .
“Although our building is closed for meetings and group activities, our Sanctuary is open for individual prayer Monday through Friday from 8 am to noon,” church leaders announced this week. “Moving to online forums as quickly as we can manage, our virtual calendar includes many opportunities to interact with Clergy.”
Members and others are all encouraged to check Trinity’s website, or its Facebook or Instagram feeds to connect. Also, for those who are in need of prayers, send e-mail requests to email@example.com.
VALLEY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (PCUSA)
21 West Whisconier Road, Brookfield
Reverend Deb Packard, Interim Pastor
Valley Presbyterian will not be meeting for worship for the remaining Sundays in March, and all Valley activities including Choir Rehearsals, Bible Studies, Lenten Book Study will be suspended during this period, the church has posted on its website. Members are working on streaming a live service that several pastors would help lead through the magic of technology.
WALNUT HILL COMMUNITY CHURCH
156 Walnut Hill Road, Bethel
Brian Mowrey, Adam DePasquale & Craig Mowrey, Lead Pastors
Regular worship services and programs are canceled through the end of March, “but there are still ways we can stay connected as a church family,” leaders posted on the church’s website. Multiple videos and live stream opportunities are available; visit walnuthillcc.org/coronavirus for the latest updates, schedules and posts.