SPRING LAKE, N.J. (CBS New York) — The doors to many places of worship around the Tri-State Area have been closed due to the spread of the coronavirus.
As a result, sermons, teachings and masses are being streamed so people can worship at home. Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York preaches via a live stream.
“Why worry when you can pray,” Butts said during a recent sermon that was streamed online for his church’s worshipers.
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Elsewhere, someone used pebbles to write “Have Faith” outside of St. Catherine’s Church in Spring Lake, N.J. Parishioner Jack Kirnan said people are used to running to their places of worship when tragedy strikes.
“I think back on the big moments in life. JFK was assassinated in 1963. The Challenger explosion in 1986, and more recently, probably people would gravitate to the terror attacks, 9/11,” said Kirnan in an interview with CBS2’s Meg Baker. “What happened in those periods? People rushed to a church, to a synagogue … It was a way of coping with what was a lot of uncertainty and a lot anxiety.”
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The difference this time around is that people can’t congregate at places of worship in a traditional way. Technology is being relied on by faith leaders all over the Tri-State, like New York City Rabbi Adam Mintz, who is teaching online Jewish Bible classes through the video conferencing platform Zoom.
He said he’s had a huge response.
“It lets us know that people are really looking for religion,” Mintz said. “There are people who are coming to my Zoom classes who have never, ever, ever attended my in-person live classes. I’m beginning to think that when this is all over it may pay to keep all my classes on Zoom.”
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Church leaders are also acting as important health educators, reminding followers of coronavirus symptoms and cautions to take — a mix of faith and common sense.