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Niwot's places of worship suspend services


Last updated 4/11/2020 at 2:28pm

Katie Rowley

Due to concerns over coronavirus, Rocky Mountain Christian Church has moved its services online Sundays at 9:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. (www.rocky.church/live).

In small towns, churches are much more than simply places of worship to gather on Sunday mornings. They provide a space for neighbors to socialize, for newcomers to meet people, and for those without company to have some, if even just for a few hours. With the closing of most public and private businesses and gatherings limited to no more than 10 individuals, churches in Niwot and Gunbarrel are forced to figure out other ways of bringing the community together.

Pastor Janet Kettering of Shepherd of the Hills in Gunbarrel advised that the church would be canceling services until at least April 1, however, as much is still unknown, this date may move back. The church also shares its community center with various other groups and will close its doors until at least April 1.

While events like this are terrifying, uncertain, and, for many, tragic, Kettering also explains how they have the unique ability to unify a rather disconnected world. She said, "This is the first time in my lifetime I am experiencing an event that is being shared globally. Of course, we've had other experiences that were similar, but occurred at different times in different places. In this situation we are all simultaneously sharing something that reminds us that we all share the same "essence," regardless of how we do or do not recognize God or what name we give to God."

It may be easier to feel more connected and communal in small communities such as ours, but we can still be isolated in our comforts, routines, and small family and friend groups. Kettering shared that, "During this time of worldwide, deep disorientation, that connection has just become glaringly apparent, turning us to each other."

Rocky Mountain Christian Church has also moved its services online, held Sundays at 9:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. (www.rocky.church/live). RMCC's communications director Duncan Schaefer said that in addition to traditional services, the church would continue to hold its Kids Ministry and Student Ministry online as well.

Schaefer speculated that Easter service might be cancelled as well but nothing was confirmed yet. While providing an online resource for traditional church services that parishioners are now missing, Schaefer highlighted other examples of communal service. "We are calling our regular church attenders to check on them and ask how we can help/pray. Our Local Impact ministry is providing resources to our church about serving opportunities and we are encouraging our people to support businesses by buying gift cards and giving them away."

Schaefer also acknowledged that now, more than ever, is a time to spread the church's love, light, and mission. RMCC is "encouraging our people to thank local health workers either just verbally or with small tokens of gratitude. We are constantly developing our efforts and can assure anyone that we haven't ceased to be the church even though our physical building is closed until further notice."

It can be easy to forget the deeper meanings of life when faced with the tedium of daily struggles towards an unknown. Schaefer explained his gratitude and realization found even during this uncertain pandemic, "I'm also thankful for the church and others who step up in times of crisis. It makes me proud to see so much goodness in light of these circumstances."

Father Swinehart, at St. Mary Magdalene in Heatherwood noted barely any change in attendance when the service moved online. SMM is holding worship, prayer gatherings, discussion groups, and more online via ZOOM and has even partnered up each parishioner with a 'buddy' to minimize the impact of social distancing.

As public gatherings, private businesses, and a collective health hang in the balance, Father Swinehart underscored, "We're still getting used to online worship and are working to make it more 'worshipful.' Just now starting to think about what online Holy Week and Easter could look like."

Pastor Skip Strickland of the Niwot United Methodist Church has been using Facebook Live on the church's Facebook page to conduct worship services. "I recorded a sermon and a 29-minute worship service from my home {March 15)," Strickland said. "Anybody can access the Niwot United Methodist Facebook page even if they do not have a personal Facebook account."

The church has instituted a phone tree to check in on constituents. "Our missions and outreach committee will keep us up to date on how we can be good neighbors for the health and welfare of our community," Strickland said. "I have been on two of the calls with Governor Polis for Faith Based leaders. He went over options for all us to work together to keep everyone safe and supported. The ministers of the Boulder/Baseline Cluster, UMC and Gunbarrel also met this week by Zoom."

Check in. Reach out. Connect with others in whatever safe, healthy way you can to ensure we all remain emotionally engaged throughout an uncertain, trying time.


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