DC-area faith leaders share ideas on reaching followers during coronavirus pandemic

Churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship throughout the D.C. area have moved services online, as measures to curb coronavirus infections have placed restrictions on large gatherings and closed non-essential services.

Faith leaders said religious groups are meeting virtually and continuing to carry out their missions in the community.

The Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington drew faith leaders together Tuesday for an online meeting during which they swapped ideas and detailed their spiritual efforts.

It’s not just religious services that have moved online. Church youth groups are also using video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom and Google Meet.

“They’ve been very creative … they’ve been engaging in a mixed set of activities, games … sharing and just connecting with each other,” Ramon Dominguez, a priest with the Don Bosco Center in Manassas, Virginia, said.

Faith leaders said the COVID-19 pandemic has forced physical distancing, but it should not close out social interaction.

“Jewish summer camps are running singalong programs and holding dance parties, just like they would do at camp, bringing that taste into the home,” Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky of the Jewish Community Relations Council said.

Online sessions support the religious groups in their community efforts, the religious leaders said.

“Home-centered worship has become a real spiritual uplift,” said Elder Kevin Calderwood with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “We continue to load up trucks full of food … we’ve just delivered 40,000 pounds of food to the Capital Area Food Bank in D.C. We have a truck scheduled to go to the Maryland food bank … we’re contributing to the Food for Others in Fairfax and the St. Lucy Project in Manassas.”

Imam Talib Shareef, of Masjid Muhammad in D.C., said the mosque is reaching out to its members, trying to help those in need.

Shareef said the COVID-19 outbreak is challenging the human soul.

“The good potential comes out of our soul when we are challenged to find ways to connect and to be together,” Shareef said.


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