Some Fremont County churches, including Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Royal Gorge Vineyard Church, Catalyst Church and St. Michael Catholic Church are streaming their services online due to COVID-19.
Vineyard Christian Fellowship
Vineyard Christian Fellowship is currently streaming Sunday services at 9 and 11 a.m., as well as 7 p.m. Easter Sunday services are scheduled to be streamed at 9 and 11 a.m., as well as 7 p.m. The church will also be streaming a Good Friday service at 7 p.m. April 10. To stream a service, visit https://www.vineyardlive.org/.
Luke Canady, a lead pastor at Vineyard Christian Fellowship, said their church is one of many that have been impacted by COVID-19. All small group meetings and in-person gatherings have been cancelled at the church until May 10, unless restrictions and recommendations change before then.
“(This) doesn’t mean that we can’t still continue to gather and worship ‘In Spirit and in Truth’ like Jesus said in John 4,” Canady said. “We recently received a generous donation that allowed us to purchase some extra camera and streaming equipment that allows us to stream a more immersive church experience. We’re still working through the technological kinks, but we’re having a lot of fun meeting the challenges.”
The church has three priorities right now: streaming, connecting with their congregants as much as possible and collecting donations for those in need.
“We’re challenging everyone we meet to give away up to half of their toilet paper, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, diapers, baby wipes, etc so that we can help people with the coming needs,” Canady said. “We’re also partnering with Care and Share food bank to give away food boxes next Thursday to those in need. Next week we’ll be developing and rolling out a way for people who are stuck at home to reach out to us and receive counsel, prayer, and have some physical needs met.”
For those who have anxiety regarding COVID-19, he encourages people to stop paying so much attention to the news cycle.
“Whatever we give the most attention to is the thing or person we worship. I think many people are worshiping the current news cycle,” Canady said. “But Jesus knew all about the current situation we’re in before we were in it. He’s not checking Facebook every 20 minutes to see how many people have COVID-19. He’s comforting and strengthening people all across the globe. He’s meeting needs for desperate people. I believe that we can do the same thing.”
Royal Gorge Vineyard Church
Royal Gorge Vineyard Church is currently streaming services at 6 p.m. Saturdays and at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays. The church is hoping to live stream Easter services at 6 p.m. April 11 and at 9:30 a.m. April 12. To stream a service, visit https://www.facebook.com/royalgorgevineyard.
Pastors Alicia and Greg Swearingen said the church is still hopeful, still worshipping, still praying and still virtually connecting.
“We’ve also transitioned small group gatherings, sozo ministry, staff meetings, and other prayer meetings to video conference calls which has worked really well,” the pastors said in an email. “And provided resources to those with children so they can still have kids church at home. We also call people, send voice memos or Marco Polo them to give encouraging words, check on their needs, give words of prophecy or pray for them. It has been an incredible opportunity to reach people that don’t have faith because they have a lot of questions, and scripture has the answers!”
The pastors said to take anxieties and worries about coronavirus or anything else to Him.
“We also have the promises from the Bible of protection and care, and we hold those promises close to our hearts during times like these. We have been encouraged seeing so much good in people during this time as they extend help, love, generosity and kindness to each other at new levels. … If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, we’d love to help answer your questions and pray with you about that, connect with us on (Facebook) or our website at www.royalgorgechurch.org.”
Alicia and Greg are encouraging people to “use this time to read scripture, pray, worship and take advantage of family time.”
“Extend lots of grace for one another and forgive each other,” the email stated. “Since we are living in conditions that most of us have never had to face, forgiveness and grace for one another will be so helpful. ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.’ Peter 4:8.”
The Pantry of Fremont, which is located in the basement of the church, has stopped food distributions through March 31, according to a Facebook post.
“The health and safety of you and our dedicated volunteers is central to our decision-making process,” the post stated. “We are working with our local partners evaluating how we can best serve our community during this difficult time.”
For additional information regarding the Pantry of Fremont, visit https://www.facebook.com/pantryoffremont/
Catalyst Church is currently streaming a first service, second service and evening service at https://catalyst.online.church/. The first service’s timeline is 8:15 a.m. Catalyst Kids Pre-K, 8:25 a.m. Catalyst Kids K-3rd, 8:35 a.m. Fusion 4th & 5th and 8 a.m. is the main service. The second service’s timeline is 10 a.m. Catalyst Kids Pre-K, 10:10 a.m. Catalyst Kids K-3rd, 10:20 a.m. Fusion 4th & 5th and 10:45 a.m. is the main service. The evening service’s timeline is: 5:15 p.m. Catalyst Kids Pre-K, 5:25 p.m. Catalyst Kids K-3rd, 5:35 p.m. Fusion 4th & 5th and 6 p.m. is the main service. Easter services are also scheduled to air at those times.
Pastor Ryan McBride said cancelling physical Sunday services has been difficult.
“Not being able to be in the same room with others that you are used to being with every week to worship and celebrate together takes away one of the foundational and vital elements of our faith,” he said in an email. “That being said, there have been positive impacts as well! We have had a unique opportunity to leverage technology in order to communicate an important truth, which is that the church is not a building or a location, it is a group of people who are on a mission to advance the message of Jesus. We have been able to take an already strong online and social media presence and just make it stronger in order to advance that message of hope in a whole new way!”
He said he plans on streaming services through Easter weekend and beyond.
“Our church online platform is unique to others, because it isn’t just going live on Facebook, it’s an entire platform designed for online engagement and interaction,” McBride stated. “When people log onto the Catalyst Church online platform, not only do they get to watch our services, but they can interact with one another through chat, requesting private prayer with one of our online hosts or pastors, and the notes/scriptures from the message are all posted right there for people to follow along. Once all of our live services are over, the video is made available for on-demand viewing. It is an amazing resource! Also, because we are for the whole family we have extended our online platform to include engaging video lessons for kids as well, complete with messages from the same Catalyst Kids volunteers they are used to seeing every Sunday.”
He invites those who are struggling with anxiety to message them on their Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Catalystchurchcanoncity/ or contact them through email at email@example.com.
“Fear, worry and anxiety is placing your faith in the ‘what-ifs’ instead of who God is,” McBride stated. “I think the challenge is that many people don’t know who God is. I invite you to discover this with us and to learn about the hope that is only found by placing your faith in him. In his book ‘Confessions of a Pastor,’ Craig Groeschel, Pastor of Life.Church says this about the issue: ‘Fear and worry are a lot like a scarecrow. What harm can a scarecrow do? Us humans who construct scarecrows know that the answer is ‘none,’ but the birds don’t know that. You’re smarter than a bird, and that’s why the prophet Jeremiah says that some of the enemy’s greatest threats are ‘like a scarecrow in a melon patch, do not fear them; they can do no harm …’”
St. Michael Catholic Church
St. Michael Catholic Church is streaming essential services live online at https://www.stmikescanoncity.org/. The services will also be posted to the web to access at a later time. The church will stream mass at 9 a.m. Sunday. Holy Week services will also be streamed. Father Jesse Perez is also posting spiritual messages on the church’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/St-Michael-Catholic-Church-112094217098306.
Perez said the coronavirus has caused a major culture shock.
“(This is) something completely unprecedented and shocking,” he said. “It has got most of us saddened and hoping to be able to return to, especially, the celebration of Eucharist,” he said. “But we have to do (streaming) in a crisis situation so we can try to make sure medical services are available for those who need them the most.”
Perez said the Lord is with us through though this time and at all times.
“We need to continue to pray, turn to the Lord, come to trust the Lord, believe in his goodness and accept the fact that this is not something that God himself could will for us, but it is something that he gives us the talents and resources for to be able to overcome and conquer the consequences of this virus.”