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Glenwood/Glenelg/Dayton: Communities of faith worship together while apart

Daisy the donkey has made an appearance at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Glenwood for Palm Sunday for many years.
Daisy the donkey has made an appearance at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Glenwood for Palm Sunday for many years. (HANDOUT)

Our world has changed dramatically in the past few weeks. Thanks to modern technology, however, we are managing to weather the changes.

The season of Lent is a special time for Christians. For many years, Daisy the donkey has made an appearance at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Glenwood for Palm Sunday. Unfortunately, this year Daisy will not be appearing since the Palm Sunday physical services have been canceled.

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St. Andrew’s is now providing virtual events to connect with parishioners and meet their spiritual needs, while everyone gets used to keeping their distances. The Episcopal Church in Maryland has suspended public worship through May 16, so St. Andrew’s is creating virtual and home-based materials to celebrate together.

As Dina Van Klaveren, the rector at St. Andrew’s says, “In a world where things have been shifting rapidly in peoples’ lives, it is especially important for people of faith to gather virtually to celebrate a shared belief in a God who remains steadfast, compassionate, and full of wisdom.” St. Andrew’s invites everyone to worship God with them while keeping people safe and at a distance.

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To meet the immediate needs of social interaction, learning and communal prayer, St. Andrew’s offers virtual events on Facebook Live and Zoom. Each weekday, it offers daily devotions for adults and the life and times of Jesus for young people. On Sunday, there is morning prayer and Bible study along with adult educational offering. Go to its Facebook page for more information.

At Calvary Lutheran Church on Old Frederick Road, all the worship services and Bible studies have also been canceled. Revs. Eric and Anke Deibler record their worship services. On Sunday mornings, emails are sent to the parishioners with links to the service on YouTube, along with the order of worship so people can participate at home. The service is also burned to DVD, and along with a printed version of the order of worship, is delivered to the parishioners who do not have internet access.

A group known as Caring Callers have each been assigned a section of the parish roster at Calvary. Instructions are to call each household twice a week. Spiritual needs are reported to the pastors, while physical needs (such as shopping or errands) are reported to a church member who can help. Volunteers are available to take care of any needs that are reported. Announcements and encouraging Bible verses are being posted on Twitter and Facebook. The pastors are communicating with other local clergy to find ways that the churches can share ideas and support each other.

The local schools are also improvising ways to stay connected while students, administrators and teachers are all at home.

Dayton Oaks Elementary School held a virtual Spirit Week with days it called Mindful Monday, Kindness Tuesday, Well-Being Wednesday, Thoughtful Thursday and Friendly Family Friday. Students were given suggestions for activities to participate in, as well as suggestions of clothing to wear for the day, all relating to the theme of Positive Global Citizens Week. Positive interactions and support for one another starting at home were the goals. Students were asked to take photographs and send them to Principal Nigel LaRoche to be shared with the Dayton Oaks community.

Bushy Park Elementary School’s Principal Julia Bialeski began filming video morning announcements in her living room, which were posted each morning on the school website. The announcements could be watched as they happened, or later in the day. On the announcements, Bialeski talks about the weather, recognizes students with birthdays and tells silly jokes.

We are all trying to share our lives with each other even though everyone is forced to stay apart.

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