Source: | Author: Alyssa Newcomb | Published: December 18, 2020

With the coronavirus still spreading at record numbers in the United States, people have opted to skip attending religious services in person and instead explore virtual services from the safety of home.

An increasing number of churches, temples, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship are offering livestream services that extend far beyond the local community they’d usually attract.

At All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Mother Leslie Hague delivered her Sunday sermon to an audience of members who stayed in their cars and watched her speak from a lectern at Brion Park.

All Saints offers livestreams for members to watch from home, but the event on Dec. 13 was the first time many in the community had the opportunity to see each other (albeit through their car windows) since the start of the pandemic.

On the way out of services, cars lined up for a drive-thru communion service. Hague said everyone wore masks and she dropped the host (bread) into each person’s hand to reduce contact, instead of pressing it into their palms. All Saints is skipping the wine sacrament, since traditionally everyone drinks from the same cup.

Kathy Dean, who has attended All Saints for 18 years and sings in the choir, said it felt “joyous” to wave to her friends at church, even if they were in their cars.

“Church is so much about community as much as it is about God, so to be worshiping from home … I live alone and that was a big shift for me to see people remotely but not physically present,” she said.

Hague started the livestreams in March by just using her iPad to broadcast daily prayer services to the community.

“Technologically, it was a stretch at first,” Hague said. “But we now have two cameras and lots of mics. It has grown quite a bit, although we still sometimes experience tech difficulties,” she said.

When a few technical snafus happened on a recent Sunday, it just so happened to work perfectly for her sermon.

“I talked about how we want things to be the same, but that’s not how the world works or how God works,” she said. “When things go awry, it’s God saying keep on your toes.”

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