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Churches dealing with lack of services and offerings

Memorial United Church in Grand Falls-Windsor. Nicholas Mercer/Saltwire Network
Memorial United Church in Grand Falls-Windsor. Nicholas Mercer/Saltwire Network

Nicholas Mercer

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The last four weeks have been very different for Rev. Kim Waite.

The minister at Memorial United Church in Grand Falls-Windsor is used to interacting with members of her congregation, being able to give a hug when requested and visiting those who are confined to their homes.

“It is very strange to be stuck to the telephone,” Waite saidof interacting with the members she is used to seeing in person.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people all over the world to stay home and keep physically distant from other people, churches have struggled to find ways to serve their congregation outside of regular Sunday services. Those services have moved online.

A large part of any church service is the offering the congregation makes to the church.

It is not only financial support for the church, but support for the ministries of the church.

The congregation at Memorial United is fairly tech savvy, Waite says, and many of its members have relatives in other parts of Canada and can navigate through FaceTime and Facebook.

That makes them able to send their offerings as needed. For those who aren’t technologically literate, the church has been figuring out how to enable them to make offerings. For those who want to contribute cash, Memorial makes arrangements to get the offerings. Others will be picked up when volunteers drop off groceries to those who need them.

"We’re getting better at getting offerings,” said Waite.

The Anglican Diocese in Gander has established a physical location for those who want to drop off their offerings in person.

They’ve also taken to accepting email offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is tough,” said Anglican Archbishop Rt. Rev. John Watton. “That is sort of where we are.”

Most Reverand R. Anthony Daniels, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Grand Falls-Windsor, said some of the church’s congregation have taken to dropping off their offerings in recent weeks.

In this age of physical distancing, that is something the church has discouraged.

Daniels says the church qualifies for emergency funding under the guidelines released by the federal government in the last couple of weeks.

“I suspect that we are going to be fine. I think that is kind of the bottom line,” he said.

While the pandemic has given churches a push when it comes to offering their ministries in a new, modern way, they aren’t a replacement for their traditional practices.

“There is no substitute for a gathering and symbolic offering,” said Watton.

Nicholas Mercer is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Central Newfoundland for Saltwire Network.

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