Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

By David Pan 

Doing church in a different way

 

Last updated 3/18/2020 at 11:42am

Paul Archipley

Peering through the window at the sanctuary of St. John's Mission on Sunday morning reveals the impact of coronavirus closures. Pews are empty in churches throughout Mukilteo and the state.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to impact every aspect of people's lives, including how they worship and practice their spirituality.

Last weekend may have been the first time many individuals were unable to attend Sunday services as churches in Mukilteo closed their doors out of concerns for the health of their parishioners and at the direction of state health officials.

Some churches have opted to livestream their services online, while others have uploaded their pastor's sermons to their own websites.

For example, Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church has started livestreaming its Sunday and Thursday worship services on its website and Facebook page.

"God is beyond a building," Pastor Pam Gompf said. "Church is not a building. Church is people. We've got to do church without a building. We'll just do church differently than we've done in the past."

Pointe of Grace has suspended all of its public meetings and gatherings to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The church is taking the initiative to stay connected with its members. Under normal circumstances, the church's care teams – groups of 10 to 12 people – visit members who are homebound or in the hospital.

The plan now is for the care teams to check in with all of the church's members.

"We want to see how everyone is doing," Gompf said.

Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church also is organizing two food drives for children and homebound individuals.

Packs for Kids that include various food items will be distributed from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5:30-8 p.m. on Thursdays on the front porch of the church entrance at 5425 Harbour Pointe Blvd.

No documentation is necessary. Drive up and receive a pack. Donations for Packs for Kids will be accepted from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Tuesdays. The program is being coordinated with the Mukilteo School District.

The church also is accepting items for Goods of Grace, a program for those who are quarantined or unable to afford or order online grocery delivery. Bags of Goods of Grace will be dropped off on individuals' doorsteps. Those in need of food can call the church at 425-263-8730 or email [email protected]

A full list of suggested items for Packs for Kids and Goods of Grace can be found on the church's website: https://pointeofgrace.org

Mukilteo Foursquare Church also is no longer holding its Sunday services.

"We've decided in the interest of safety and for everybody's health to suspend services until this passes," lead Pastor Jeff Dutra said.

Instead, the church will encourage its members to go online.

Mukilteo Foursquare Church has been livestreaming its Sunday services for about six months. Dutra estimates that about 10 percent of the congregation watches the Sunday services on Facebook Live.

"We're still trying to fine-tune the audio and video and get those bugs out," he said. "It's still a little bit of a work in progress."

Mukilteo Presbyterian Church and Jericho Bridge Church also suspended their Sunday services.

All activities on the Mukilteo Presbyterian Church campus have been canceled except for the Mukilteo Food Bank, which operates out of the church. The food bank has implemented new safety procedures in which clients remain in their cars and food is brought to them.

Audios of Senior Pastor Mark Smith's sermons are uploaded to the Mukilteo Presbyterian Church's website, and the church plans to offer livestreaming soon.

Jericho Bridge Church plans to record Pastor Don Saul's sermons and send them out to the congregation as well.

The church held its services at the Rosehill Community Center. The city announced last week that the center will be closed through April 24. Gov. Jay Inslee announced this week a ban on all gatherings of 50 people or more. Previously, the governor's order limited gatherings of more than 250.

Saul said that attendance at the church's last service was down a little bit.

Paul Archipley

A sign on the door at St. John's Mission.

"I gave everyone the head's up that if they were uncomfortable or had any concerns that they should stay home," Saul said.

Many in the community have expressed their concerns about the coronavirus.

"I've seen a lot of people whose hearts are stricken with fear. They are almost paranoid about getting the coronavirus," Dutra said. "Others are aware of it and not paralyzed with fear ... Most people are concerned about it, and are trying to do their best to be responsible."

Gompf agrees that people are expressing a wide range of emotions, from fear to a sense that the crisis will blow over.

"It's very diverse across the board," Gompf said. "The role of the church is to bring a sense of calm and to hear those anxieties."

 

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