COVID rules prompt Vermont churches to get creative
RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Christians in Rutland are getting creative, finding alternative ways to hold services. Churches in Rutland celebrated the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday. And all are looking forward to Easter, hoping they can open their doors and let people in.
“In this community, we have found ways to still be together as one in the body of Christ,” said Rev. Alberta Wallace of the Grace Congregational Church.
The Grace Congregational Church has a large space to socially distance and they use plexiglass as an additional barrier for those leading the service. But at this time, all services are online.
Wallace is hopeful the vaccine will allow them to return to in-person services.
“Celebrate the vaccinate is what we are hoping for that will get us back here for Easter Sunday,” Wallace said.
She believes this is the time for all to come together, so Wallace reached out to other churches and they agreed to share their services by posting them online and airing them on local television channels.
She is also working with the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Rutland for a service Wednesday night. People will listen to the service by tuning their car radios and staying in the parking lot. They will also receive a temporary cross tattoo instead of ashes.
At Christ the King Church, they treated their Ash Wednesday mass like Sunday mass, with just under half capacity, all spaced six feet apart and wearing masks.
Ash Wednesday always draws a large crowd.
“We were rather close at this Mass. We were right at the edge of our number,” said Father Bernard Bourgeois of the Christ the King Church, Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Patrick Parish.
Bourgeois says their bishop directed pastors to put ashes on each churchgoer’s forehead.
“The thought was coronavirus pretty much spreads through the mouth and through droplets and not so much of this. We did wash before and after. And it’s such a little touch... and it’s so quick,” Bourgeois said.
But back at Grace Congregational Church, worshippers will not receive ashes personally. So Wallace has created a painting with the ashes as a representation for this year. And a devotional bulletin has also been created by the community with poems, songs and short stories for the season of Lent.
“Each day of the season you can open up that booklet and have that devotional time there,” Wallace said.
Bourgeois tells WCAX they have not had to close their doors for any services but may have a signup sheet for Easter Sunday. He is open to holding additional Masses for people to spread out more.
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