by Priscilla Rodriguez
In the wake of the coronavirus crisis that has stopped the world in its tracks, religious communities around the world are embracing new and creative ways of connecting with each other. Social distancing efforts have resulted in video calls for sermons, prayers in open spaces, and other creative measures to keep communities close during these challenging times.
In Japan, for example, a Buddhist monk at the Ryokusen-ji temple in Taito ward, Tokyo has resorted to Zoom, a video conferencing service, to tend to queries that would otherwise normally happen in person.
In Germany, IKEA has lent its parking lot to ease the gathering of large crowds of the Muslim faith to come together (while remaining 6 feet apart) for prayer.
For those in the Catholic community, some have turned to Facebook live streams for prayers and sermons, while major celebrations within the Catholic faith have been carried over into a virtual space. Its recent annual celebration of Laudato Si’, for example, has been largely celebrated online, with leaders of the clergy inviting their communities to participate by submitting prayers, poems, pledges, and encouraging other virtual participation from home.
Meanwhile, other religious communities have resorted to more isolated celebrations. Some major mosques decided against any large gatherings for Ramzan (a holy month of fasting), which resulted in families holding prayers from home. Leaders urged those in red zones to stay at home, while those in green zones were asked to uphold social distancing by only carrying out prayers in large spaces, wearing masks, and keeping six feet apart.
In the Jewish community, ministers of music known as “cantors” are resorting to various platforms like YouTube and Facebook to continue holding these moving services that involve worship through music, and they are finding creative ways to conduct bar / bat mitzvahs.
Amid navigating all of these challenges, it appears that communities of all religions are looking out for those who have the fewest resources during this time. Religious groups have organized donation opportunities and have urged their communities to share and give to whom they can and keep them in their prayers.
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