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Tuning into church

Churches going digital to keep congregations together during viral outbreak.

On Wednesday, March 17, the husband and wife Pastor’s, Daren and Angie Werk, at New Life Victory Church announced that if anyone in their congregation is feeling sick or unwell during this time, they still have the opportunity to attend church from the comfort of their own home.

Due to the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus, there are now 119 cases in Alberta, and the mass cancellation of events, social gatherings, and public facilities, churches are having to find new ways to connect to their people. New Life Victory Church now allows for church goers to attend service through Facebook Live. 

Call it a computerized congregation, a Facebook following, or a parish of pixels — whatever the name the thought is still the same; reaching out with hope.

“Church brings hope to people,” says Pastor Angie. “So during this time we will just have to do our services differently, but we still want to be able to reach people. There is a need for hope in Alberta, and we know that is what the church is meant for, that’s what we do.”

Facebook Live is a way to broadcast videos and recordings in real time for anyone to watch. To attend the New Life Victory Church services, viewers can go to the church's social media page, and join in on their live church services.

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Deena Hinshaw, has recommended that events consisting of more than 50 people should be cancelled, and seeing as there are now four COVID-19 case in the North zone, the Northern rural areas need to be more proactive when it comes to their health and the health of those around them. 

Worship on wifi

In earlier restrictions on gatherings, churches were exempt, but last Sunday, provincial officials included churches and religous gatherings in the restirctions, banning any single church events of more than 50 people. Angie says they are abiding by the new protocols, and are using technology to get their message to those who can't make it to their church.

“We are in steady communication with our congregation, and we have been encouraging them through texting, and we have all been praying for each other,” she says. “We will do what we have to do, we honour the authorities, but we refuse to enter into fear.”

For those in good health, the pastor says the church remains open.

“We are wanting to be sensitive to people, and families and to also strengthen them as well," said Angie expaining that she believes poeple forced to remain at home, or those who chose to self-isolate need to maintain social contact and relationships.  "Isolation really encourages lack of love, and caring, and that is absolutely not the answer in this hour,” says Pastor Daren Werk. “I think church is probably needed right now more than in a long time, especially in the wake of so much fear all over the place.” 

Other churches in the region are expected to be holding similar digital events to continue to reach their community congregations.

For a listing of churches in the area and their service times, the POST will be creating a full community directory of facilities and businesses that remain open with their hours of operation and ways they plan to deliver their products and services. The listing will be on the special COVID-19 information landing page here.