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Bloomington places of worship move online during coronavirus pandemic



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A mass schedule sign stands March 30 in front of St. Paul Catholic Church on East 17th Street. Many churches have begun doing services online. Alex Deryn

At many places of worship in Bloomington faith services will not be put on hold, but put online. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order and social distancing has caused Hoosiers to stay home and away from large crowds, including their religious services.

St. Paul Catholic Center,1413 E. 17th St.

St. Paul has canceled in person mass and is now livestreaming services. ​Sunday masses will be livestreamed at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on the center's Facebook and YouTube pages. The church will also offer a series of weekday services,according to its website. They also post the videos to their official YouTube and Facebook pages. The videos depict a commencement of prayer, readings from the Bible and even communion.

The church also has provided resources on its website for people at home , including daily readings, live webcams of chapels to pray to and free accounts for Formed, a streaming service described as a Catholic Netflix according to St. Paul's website. 

Currently, there are no plans for a specific Easter Sunday celebration. The church will continue as normal and hold mass online and is waiting to discuss any special services for the holiday.

“We are continuing to reach out to students the best we can,” Friar Patrick Hyde said. “For us as Catholics, there’s a particular goodness in sharing mass, whether by oneself or with millions of people. Every day really is an opportunity to spread hope and in the midst of this, that’s really what we’re trying to do.” 

Sherwood Oaks Christian Church, 2700 E. Rogers Road

Also moving to livestreamed services, Sherwood Oaks is encouraging comfort in this time. With services including live music, reading of scripture and discussion through a group chat option, speakers of the church welcome anyone to tune in at 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m. or 1 p.m. Sundays.

All services are livestreamed through the church’s website. The livestreams are then recorded and saved to view at any time.

“These online services are our best effort to help our church feel together, with one another, right now. As in all trying times in world history, we now have the opportunity to examine our own lives and figure out how we can love our neighbor even though we need to be physically distant from them right now,” Executive Minister Jeremy Earle said.

Beth Shalom Congregation, 3750 E. Third St.

While many places of worship have livestreamed or prerecorded their sessions, this synagogue has chosen to continue teaching in an online medium familiar to students: Zoom. 

Beth Shalom plans on holding Shabbat every 11 a.m. Saturday through Zoom. Prerecorded Erev Shabbat, Friday night services, can be found on the website.

Passover will also be celebrated through an online community Seder, a ceremonial dinner, on April 9 through Zoom. 

For questions about online offerings email bethshalombloomington@gmail.com.

Helene G. Simon Hillel Center, 730 E. Third St.

Also moving to Zoom is the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center, a center for Jewish life on IU's campus. 

As Passover approaches, Hillel still plans to celebrate online as a community. Events include their weekly Wednesday Wellness talks, showings of popular movies and a workshop on how to make Matzah Ball soup led by Rabbi Sue Silberberg. According to the website, other passover activities will be announced soon.

"Just as we have always done, we will emerge from this crisis if we find creative ways to be there for one another and each of us remembers the importance of helping those who are most vulnerable,” according to a statement on their website. “We can create virtual community until it is safe for us to be together in person.”

First United Church, 2420 E. Third St.

First United Church will also be moving to Zoom for their services. 

The chapel has already had its first online service and Lenten Vespers, an evening prayer service, through Zoom. The church encourages kids to participate in the children’s services online. 

Islamic Center of Bloomington, 1925 Atwater Ave.

The Islamic Center of Bloomington has also moved all classes, including its Friday speech services, online. In addition, the center has also created a Community Emergency Response Team, in which they help members of their community in need, ranging from the elderly and sick to single mothers and those in a financial crisis. 

By forming a group of volunteers, this team checks up daily on those struggling and shops for them to make sure their needs are met. 

“We are all hopeful that eventually things will get better for everyone, but in the meantime we are taking things day-by-day with the mindset that there is wisdom behind all of this even if we, with our limited minds as human beings, cannot understand it as of right now,” said Afnan Abdullahi, Women’s Executive Committee representative. 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4235 W. Third St

While plans of moving online have yet to come from the local The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Prophet and President of the entire church Russell M. Nelson has invited all members of thechurch to join together in prayer from home.

In a YouTube video released March 26, Nelson announced a global encouragement to practice a day of fasting and prayer for relief from the coronavirus on Sunday. 

“Let us unite our faith to plead for physical, spiritual and other healing throughout the entire world,” Nelson said in the announcement. 

Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, 2120 N. Fee Lane.

The Unitarian Universalist Church has always offered livestreamed services. Right now, they have one weekly service online at 10:15 a.m. on Sundays, according to its website.

These services are livestreamed through the website and can also be accessed through the Facebook page. 

These services include religious readings and live music from local musicians.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the days and times of Beth Shalom’s services. The IDS regrets this error.

CLARIFICATION: The link and email to access Beth Shalom’s online events has been updated.

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