Sharing Hope during COVID-19 Social Distancing
With COVID-19 and America’s attempt to “flatten the curve” through social distancing, churches, temples, and houses of worship have been forced to find ways of communicating God’s message to the church, without the building or the congregation in attendance.
It is imperative that we practice social distancing to allow our available medical care resources to keep up with the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States.
Resurrection Sunday or Easter Sunday is April 12 and Americans are on stay-at-home orders. My church has been providing the weekly service via live streaming on Facebook, which has allowed me to stay connected with my church family even though I haven’t actually hugged anyone in weeks.
How Crosspoint Church has chosen to Connect Virtually
Lead Pastor of Crosspoint Church in Spring Hill, Paul Castelli, summed things up nicely, “Even though our world has changed, the power of God has not changed. The truth of Scripture has not changed. The hope of Jesus has not changed. Our mission as a church has not changed. Let us not give in to fear. Rather, let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”
This mobile church, which has been meeting in Hernando County’s Challenger K-8 school for years and was poised to begin its church building on a 13-acre campus in Spring Hill this year has been forced to communicate with its members virtually.
Paul told me that it was very important to the staff at Crosspoint that messages of hope went out to the community. A sermon series entitled “Hope” was begun March 13 as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the U.S. to attention.
Hope became the Message to fill a need
“This was not the sermon series we had planned but it was evident that this message was important to get out, so we buckled down and made it happen,” Paul explained. “The staff was all in to do whatever we needed to communicate God’s message of hope to the people of Hernando County and beyond.”
The Crosspoint Production/Media/and Worship team worked hard to bring a Message of Hope every week. Additionally, Crosspoint has sent emails to help its members with exercise, community resources and children’s activities multiple times a week since Florida’s Stay-at-Home order was enacted.
“Initially following Governor DeSantis’ order to stay home in mid-March and gather in groups of less than 50, we recorded a live service to share with our audience on Sunday morning. Two people reached out to say that they accepted Christ during one of those video services,” Paul shared. “It is so rewarding to know God works through modern technology.”
The Church’s Prayer and Care team have reached out to several of Crosspoint’s elderly and widowed to check on any essential needs and to pray with them. The Children’s ministry and Middle School ministry teams have found new ways to reach out to students at home.
“Our hope is to be able to gather together on our church campus at Challenger as soon as possible, but in the meantime, we believe we can continue to learn and grow as a church by worshipping together in our homes with friends and family.”
Video and Electronic Tools help Churches connect with their communities in times of Crisis
Crosspoint is only one of many houses of worship that have turned to video and electronic means to continue communicating their message of hope during a confusing and challenging time to live. Crosspoint Church is a nondenominational Christian church.
Below are several other denominations in Florida’s Nature Coast that are offering worship services outside of their building’s walls.
Having grown up in a time when Jim and Tammy Fay Baker made television preaching a debacle through their excesses, I find I am enjoying receiving a message of hope in my living room. I sure do miss the hugs, though.
Nature Coast Houses of Worship now offering Online Messages
Easter is a special time for most Christians to get out to church. Most of us have vivid memories of dressing up and going to worship services with our family on this holy day.
Below is a list of random Houses of Worship throughout Florida’s Nature Coast that are offering online streaming services and even study curriculum.
Crystal River United Methodist Church
Crystal River United Methodist Church began streaming its services via Facebook Live each Sunday at 10:30 am. For Easter Services members and guests are invited to gather in their vehicles at the north end of the campus for Easter Services through “Drive-In Worship.” The service will begin at 10:30 so come a little early to get parked and ready for worship. The church address is 4801 N Citrus Ave. Crystal River, FL 34428.
Temple Beth David Spring Hill
Temple Beth David in Spring Hill offers regular streaming of its services and you can connect with them by clicking here.
- Friday nights (Erev Shabbat) at 7:30pm
- Saturday mornings (Shabbat Morning) at 10:00am
- Havdalah Service (Saturday Evening) at 8:00pm
Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church offers traditional services with live streaming on YouTube at 10:30 am Sunday
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in New Port Richey is offering virtual services for each traditional Catholic celebration of the steps that led to Christ’s resurrection. Here is their schedule with links.
- Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be live-streamed on Facebook at 7:00 pm.
- The Passion of Our Lord will be live-streamed on Facebook at 3:00 pm on Good Friday.
- The Easter Vigil will be live-streamed on Facebook at 8:00 pm on Holy Saturday. No confessions on Holy Saturday.
- Easter Sunday Mass will be live-streamed on Facebook at 10:30 am on Easter Sunday.
Everything with the exception of the Vigil will be available on their website shortly after the live stream. Confessions will be heard every either from your vehicle under the portico or by Mary’s Grotto on Saturdays from 2:30 to 3:30 with the exception of Holy Saturday. Please check the website frequently as things sometimes change day to day.
First Baptist Church of Inverness
You are invited to tune into the live streaming of Sunday Worship Service on the FBC Inverness Facebook page at 10:30 am. In addition, First Baptist Church of Inverness will be live streaming special times of songs, activities, discipleship, devotions, and updates on weeknights at 6:00 pm on Facebook.
The videos will also be posted on this website under Sermons and on our YouTube channel. Additionally, you can tune in to WYKE Spectrum/Comcast Channel 16 and Digital Channel 47 to watch Sunday Morning Worship Service at 10:30 am.
Gateway Bible Church in Spring Hill
Fellowship Community Wesleyan Church of Spring Hill
Fellowship Community Church is offering Sunrise Service online at 7:30 am and a regular service time of 9 am on Easter Sunday, both being virtual. This church offers weekly podcasts that can be listened to online here or subscribed to via iTunes or GooglePlay. There is more information on their website.
LifeChurch in Wesley Chapel
LifeChurch in Wesley Chapel offers livestream services Saturday evenings at 6pm, Sunday mornings at 11 am, Sunday afternoon in Spanish at 1 pm. Their website explains, “In order to honor their request (stay-at-home order) and demonstrate wisdom on our part, we will move our weekend worship gatherings from on campus to online. We have said now for years, we are one house with many rooms. But now we will be one house with many living rooms, family rooms, and dining rooms. But we will remain one house.”
Their YouTube channel contains short video messages of hope, as well as past worship services in English and Espanol. There are Good Friday services in English (6 pm) and Spanish (8 pm) Communion will be celebrated at each service, with suggestion to stock bread and grape juice to join in at home.
Accessing Hope during COVID-19 Social Distancing
I have found it invaluable to be able go outside and appreciate creation and its goodness during this time, but I also miss the weekly ritual of worship. Having my local pastor come into my living room and deliver a guided message helps me retain my faith and increases my trust in my God.
No matter what spiritual path you have chosen, the gift of corporate worship in the United States is a big one. It is a good time to replace the fear-based media messages with those of hope and these online services can provide that gift.
The need to stay a safe distance from one another to stop the spread of COVID-19 is prudent and having churches follow those guidelines is imperative to our getting through the madness as quickly as possible with the least number of casualties.
Now go online and get some hope.
Author’s Note: This is not nearly a complete round-up of what is available to help us get through this time of challenge spiritually. We have left out denominations and churches throughout the region only because we need YOU to add your house of worship and a link to its offerings to the comments below!