Religions adjust to virtual services amid holy days

As the Jewish community continues to celebrate Passover and Christians are in the middle of Holy Week, churches and synagogues in the area are making the most of the holidays, as the country is in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.

At United Methodist Church in East Greenwich, Rev. William Trench has been holding services on Facebook since March 22.

During the church’s Maundy Thursday worship, Trench decided to do things a little different for his congregation because of the importance of the service.

“We encouraged people to have communion with us at home. Some denominations would not do that. We decided it’s what we wanted to do,” Trench said. “Nobody’s had a holy week like this.”

Trench is not discouraged, as he thinks back historically when it was also difficult to recognize these holidays.

“What was it like during the civil war? What was it like during the 1918 flu pandemic?” he said.

As for the virtual services, he said he’s had good turnouts and positive feedback from parishioners.

“The live stream has allowed us to connect with people that we haven’t before,” he said. “Quite frankly we will continue having a live stream of at least part of the service after this passes.”

Meanwhile, the Jewish community just wrapped up the second seder recognizing Passover.

Rabbi Jeffrey Goldwasser with Temple Sinai in Cranston said although Passover is typically celebrated at home, he encouraged his congregants to hold virtual seders to encourage social distancing.

“We did a second night sader last night to be able to reach out to our own community and we had about 50 people,” he said.

Goldwasser said that the meaning of Passover still resonated even on video conference.

“Actually a much better experience than any of us thought it was going to be. We felt very connected to each other and it was a very spiritual experience,” Goldwasser said.

Goldwasser said he will be holding a service Friday on Zoom as well as a service on the last night of Passover, and that’s it.

“There would be services at the synagogue everyday, but we’re not doing that,” he said.


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