Okanagan bible belt tightens as COVID-19 concerns send worshipers to online services - InfoNews

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Okanagan bible belt tightens as COVID-19 concerns send worshipers to online services

St. Aidan's Anglican Church at the corner of Rutland Road N and Mugford Road in Kelowna is pictured in this image from Google Street View.
Image Credit: Google Street View
March 15, 2020 - 10:35 AM

Thousands of ordinary homes will become houses of worship Sunday morning as some of the Okanagan’s biggest Christian churches close their doors because of COVID-19.

Only online services will be held by Trinity Baptist and Willow Park churches— two of Kelowna's most busy churches— with pastors saying the closed-door approach is aimed at ensuring public health.

“In line with recent recommendations, we believe the best course of action is to suspend all ministries of Willow Park Church at all campuses. We will give you updates as to when we can re-open,” Kelowna’s Willowpark church wrote in a statement, directing parishioners to the online service today.

“Jesus told us clearly to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves, that especially rings true when it comes to the most vulnerable. We are also encouraged in Jeremiah 29:7 to 'seek the welfare of our city,' which we continually seek to do.”

At Trinity Baptist they encouraged that families  “gather in homes to watch together, learn together, and pray together.”

Tiffany Babott, a member of Kelowna Christian Church, was one of the people who worshipped from home today, and noted it if someone is sick it isn't unusual to partake in service in that form.

"Of course you do lose the social aspect of the church but hopefully this isn't for a long term period. But doing it at home does help people get closer with their families and could increase discussion after the initial church message,"  Babott said.

While of the biggest churches in the city closed, some others also opted to stay open while curtailing activities that could cause the spread of the virus.

The Okanagan’s Catholic churches, for example,  recommended that congregants stay home if they weren’t feeling well, and communion from the chalice was on hold.

It was also recommended that “smiles, waves, bows” were recommended in lieu of handshaking.

The Anglican churches had a similar recommendation and noted the common cup for communion was on hold.

Kelowna wasn't an exception to the rule and a similar situation rolled out in churches in other cities across the region. Many Christian churches switched to a full online experience for the next two weekends.

This will include musical worship, a sermon, and family news.


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