Pastor Greg Berger practices delivering a sermon to an empty parish. Until further notice, the church will only offer online services.

In a time of crisis, pastor Greg Berger of Messiah Lutheran Church urges people to lean on their faith, even though they cannot practice it in the church.

Instead of holding traditional services, Messiah Lutheran Church is giving people the opportunity to watch virtual services amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

Until further notice, the church will not offer traditional services in order to keep people safe during the crisis.

Every week, Berger will deliver sermons to a camera instead of a room full of people.

“It’s going to be strange, but I always keep in mind who the audience is, whether I can see them or not,” he said.

Some parishioners, Berger said, have volunteered to attend the services so he has someone to look at during his recordings. However, no more than 10 people are allowed to attend services at once and those who do must practice social distancing, he said.

The services can be found at messiahfamily.com and on the church’s Facebook page.

“We are all in a time that has been hard to prepare for,” Berger said.

“We are all just trying to adapt and be fluid in this and be responsive and still share God’s love and compassion with our neighbor in whatever way we can. That’s kind of where we try to put our focus.”

In his taped sermons, Berger said he doesn’t want to focus on the current negativity in the world.

“While we want to address peoples’ anxieties and concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak, I also feel it is important to offer them a sense of normalcy in this,” he said. “I may reference what’s going on in the sermon, but I am going to give them as much as a normal experience as I can. Hopefully, they can find some comfort in that.”

While this is not an ideal situation, Berger said he is grateful technology still allows him to reach people.

“For those who have access to the internet, there will be other opportunities to connect with others so they don’t feel quite so isolated,” he said.

“Fortunately, we are living in a time where we are able to do this type of thing, but I am also mindful of our members who do not have access to the internet.”

Berger said he will call those who do not have internet access and send resources through the mail.

“Whether people are seeing me virtually give a message to them or reading it from a piece of paper that is mailed to them, the advantage is them knowing who I am, so even in these unusual circumstances, they can still hear my voice and that will help them to hear God’s word,” Berger said.

The following churches also offer live streaming: St. Gerald Catholic Church, stgerald.org; Trinity United Methodist Church, trinityralston.org; and Glow Church, glowchurch.life.

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