Although the coronavirus has caused churches to close their doors, online services provide an alternative for people to continue worshipping
Over the past two weeks, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has shut down many institutions, and churches were no exception. Houses of worship, much like businesses and schools have had to transition to an online only format.
This includes several prominent churches in the San Gabriel Valley where thousands of Azusa Pacific students normally attend on any given Sunday during the school year. Notably, Fellowship Monrovia, Foothill Church and One & All Church (formerly Christ’s Church of the Valley) all began their online-only services on March 15, which they will continue indefinitely, until large gatherings are permitted again.
Despite the tumultuous nature of the past three weeks — including the new phenomenons of social distancing and toilet paper hoarding — Foothill Church Lead Pastor Chris Lewis is not afraid.
“We don’t have to be anxious. We don’t have to be afraid. Our God is with us. Rather than hoarding, what if we were sacrificing? Rather than being restless, we’re restful,” Lewis said in a sermon.
Lewis suggested the members of his church should still be good neighbors during this time. He gave the example of someone who had an abundance of supplies and shared it with their community, saying the church should follow their example, helping and sharing in the ways they could.
Albert Tate, lead pastor of Fellowship Monrovia and a member of APU’s Board of Trustees, led his church’s first online only service with a small group of pastors and staff around him. He was not shy about acknowledging the changes the church is going through.
“We want to just be prayerful as we navigate new normals, and I can’t think of a better thing to do when trying to navigate new normals than go to the one whose always been consistent, go to the one whose always been faithful, go to the one whose always been there, and that is Jesus Christ,” Tate said in a sermon.
Both Tate’s and Lewis’ sermons were available to be live streamed or watched any time after online. One & All Church has also made their sermons available online, taught by Lead Pastor Jeff Vines, who hopes there may be some good that comes out of these times.
“The cross is a reminder that we have our hope and our security in something that no disease could ever touch and we have each other. This is why our community is strong. There’s going to be a lot of people right now searching, just like after 9/11 … and I just hope that somehow in the midst of all this that people will seek God as they sought him in the past and their eyes would be opened to his truth,” Vines said in a Facebook video.
The coronavirus has had an equally large impact on the Catholic church of Los Angeles. According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, “All Roman Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles will be closed until further notice because of the coronavirus outbreak, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez announced Tuesday, March 24.”
On a smaller scale, COVID-19 has impacted APU and the university’s regular practices led by the Office of Spiritual Life. The university announced all events, including chapels, would be canceled for the rest of the semester on March 12.
However, the Office of Spiritual Life is still hosting one online chapels on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. Recordings of chapel programs can be found on YouTube.
While the coronavirus has taken away many traditional forms of worship and services, these online measures allow for APU students and all people to still receive the spiritual care they need.