WILMINGTON, NC (WBTV) — Many houses of worship across the country and in the Cape Fear are now entering their third week of not holding services or meetings in-person with parishioners.
While some faith leaders have embraced recording their sermons on YouTube, Zoom or other social media platforms, it has been a struggle for others to maintain a sense of connectedness with their members or ‘flock.’
Reverend Jonathan Conrad is the chair of the Ministerial Roundtable of Wilmington and minister of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wilmington. For church leaders he’s spoken with, the lack of contact with people poses a difficult challenge.
“They are still dealing with that and trying to figure out ways to contact people to let them know they’re thinking of them and also keeping a health check on those that may have been in the hospital,” Conrad said.
But embracing technology to share a weekly sermon or daily devotional can be a huge learning curve.
“Many of us went to seminary or different types of schools of religion, they didn’t really have a special program on what to do when a pandemic breaks out,” Conrad said. “A lot of us are learning new skills.”
He says many of his ministerial contacts are trying remain afloat even though they may feel a bit overwhelmed by having to preach in their living rooms using their coffee table as a pulpit on which to perch their laptops.
For many who have been practicing ‘social distancing’ to stem the spread of the Coronavirus, Conrad offers a few tips to help avoid feeling bored or experiencing ‘cabin fever.’
“If you have access to the front or backyard, make sure depending on the weather, that you make time to go outside,” he said. “I know a lot of my church members are doing yard work to keep their minds off things.”
If you have children, designate time outdoors so they get to run around and play.
“Read a book, listen to music and make sure you get out of the house if you can,” he said.
You should also consider limiting the amount of time children are allowed on social media. Conrad says he does this with his 6-year-old son who enjoys playing games on his electronic device.
“We try to show him other ways to fill the time other than just being on the tablet,” Conrad said.
Couples can use this time at home to help deepen their relationship. Conrad recommends picking a show to binge watch or catch up on.
“Make this a time to catch up on movies you may have missed such as watching the Oscar Winners starting with the year you were born,” he said.
If you are a religious person, Conrad suggests using the time at home right now to deepen your spiritual connectivity.
“Find time everyday to study, pray and meditate whatever religion or background may be,” he said. “Find time for you to read your holy scriptures and to be in silence.”
Additionally, he says its important to find way to connect with your religious side.
“I think its very important to let the silence talk to you,” and he added, “You’ve got to have that moment where you can have silence around you to reflect.”
That’s one of the reasons why Conrad offers daily devotionals to his members via Facebook and YouTube.
It’s important, he says, “to find ways for people to connect spiritually in this time apart.”
Ultimately, he reminds people to stay hopeful.
“Concentrate on other people and how you can be the light in their lives,” he said. “You will find strength by giving your strength and care to other.”