Various houses of worship across Long Island are turning to one tool — online technology — to keep members connected to each other and their faiths as they avoid congregating to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Deb Mayo , 62, attends Park Center Community Church in Ronkonkoma and said she plans to watch Sunday service online from her home in Stony Brook.
“It is exciting that we have this technology,” Mayo said. “You need your social and spiritual needs met.”
After President Donald Trump announced March 16 that gatherings would be limited to 10 people or less, church leaders have begun thinking of ways to curb the spread of COVID-19. By Friday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo told New Yorkers to "remain indoors" in a series of measures he called the “ultimate step” to stop the outbreak.
Vincent Cordaro, a volunteer pastor at the church Mayo attends, has recently started a group chat so people can communicate.
“I’m a firm believer in using the most modern technology in order to help people spiritually,” said Cordaro, who began streaming services when the church was established two years ago. “It’s all about God’s kids coming together.”
When Angela Sutphen attended Christian Life Center Church in Amityville last Sunday, she said she wasn’t surprised to see only 10 people inside because of the fear of contracting the virus. She added that she plans to keep attending church.
“If that was the case and I couldn’t go, I would grab a couple of my friends” and pray, said Sutphen, 60, of Massapequa. “You don’t need a church to gather together if you believe in God.”
DaShun Burrell, a pastor at Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Huntington Station, said he plans to use Facebook Live to stream Sunday service.
“We have a team in our church who will connect with people via text, Skype, to keep in contact with members,” Burrell said. “I just want to give members that comfort of being still attached to their sanctuary.”
Burrell said streaming services live will be the first time his church does it for an anticipated audience of 125 people.
“When we go through this, we will go through this together,” he said. “This will be a challenge for the books.”
Rabbi Eli Goodman of Chabad of the Beaches, which includes Long Beach, Lido Beach and Atlantic Beach, said all 10 synagogues in the area were closed as of March 14.
With Passover weeks away, Goodman said many families will not travel. By putting information online ahead of the holiday, people not familar with leading a Passover Seder will have all the tools to run a 15-step Jewish ritual service and ceremonial dinner.
“People are anxious,” Goodman said. “We’re trying to be as creative and participatory as possible."