The Online Faith Collective connects worship with technology
NEW YORK — As COVID-19 forces churches to close and congregants to stay home, online worship services are being created and shared for long-time worshippers as well as those who are newly finding the need for faith and human connection.
The Online Faith Collective was announced Friday and launched Saturday, with dozens of faith communities sharing their worship services - and more are flooding in. “With the new reality of closings, faith leaders are finding ways to reach out safely to support and grow their communities through online worship,” said Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen, creator of the project.
The online services take many forms, but each one brings comfort: “Seeing my Rabbi and the faces of my community lifted my heart and nourished me. These are very hard times. That is when faith really rises.” Jania Sommers, San Diego.
“It is our natural desire to be with one another, now more than ever. Online worship can do this. It helps us remember that God is still in charge.” Sontaia Briggs, NYC. Rev. Karen Pitt, Lazarus Christian Community of Canada shared her online worship across borders, saying, “Join with me for an opportunity to come together, hear Christian readings and teachings, and pray together.”
Elise Tiralli, Director of Community Resources and Engagement at Middle Collegiate Church in NYC was quick to adapt: “Online worship is critical right now. It is a way we can bring love into our homes. We have the resources - why not use them? Come on! I pray we can lean into this change with energy, compassion and a deep commitment to keeping our neighbors safe.”
For pastors, the holy is found even digitally. Says Rev. Samuel Kinsman, whose sermon from West End Collegiate Church was broadcast through Zoom: “Online worship is a way for our spirits and digital selves to find the peace we can during these trying times. Although we cannot explain how the Holy Spirit moves through our screens, we cannot deny her ability to move.”
“In our online worship, we invite people gathered at home to put out their own bread and wine or juice. When we celebrate communion, we invite them to serve themselves communion at home. We consecrate the host online and share in the Lord’s Supper with everyone gathered online. As synthetic as this may sound to a traditionalist, I can assure you that this is a holy and sacred moment for many.” Rev. Rob Van Ess, Holy Trinity Community Church, Nashville.
The Online Faith Collective is expanding rapidly as churches and faith groups share their online worship times. It will include online faith events, support groups, Bible studies, workshops as well as resources for helping churches and faith communities to create and share online content. To share a service or find a service, visit OnlineFaithCollective.org.
“As we spend time online, with what are we aligned? Are we in line with our authentic selves? Are we in line with sincere relationships? May we be in line with the hope, joy, peace, grace, mercy and love of God. Worship online: like God’s love, worship knows no bounds.” Rev. Melissa Guthrie Loy
To share a service or find a service, visit OnlineFaithCollective.org.
The Online Faith Collective is a project of Parity, a national nonprofit based in NYC that promotes faith and equality for all people. parity.nyc