News Flash

Health - Public Health News

Posted on: April 10, 2020

Staying engaged safely with your religious community during the COVID-19 outbreak

Faith-based organizations and leaders play an important role in many of our lives.  They are sources of connection, comfort and support throughout the year.  The places we find connection, strength and comfort are especially important during these uncertain times. 

Springtime is a holy time of year for many faiths, a time for many to come together for worship and fellowship.  We understand the profound significance of these events in people’s lives. COVID-19 related restrictions will likely affect how many of us would typically observe these events.   

Gathering with others plays an important role in many observances, bringing family, friends and communities together to share the experience.  Unfortunately, these are not typical times.  Attending in-person gatherings of any kind increases your risk of getting COVID-19 and spreading it to others. Even with the use of face masks, it is not safe to participate in gatherings, because it is still possible for people with masks to spread the illness to others. We know it’s difficult to stay home, but it’s the best way to protect those we love.  

Religious communities are finding new and creative ways to celebrate faith and maintain fellowship while still honoring the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order.  Many religious services are being broadcast online. Some congregations are organizing phone trees to check in with, and offer help to vulnerable members of their community. Community service plays a part in many religions. Volunteer work which adheres to Stay Home, Stay Healthy could be a faith-based action to help others in our communities.


Here are some ways to celebrate your faith and build fellowship while maintaining physical/social distancing:

  • Join a service being broadcast online. Ask a faith leader in your community about how to participate. This could be an opportunity to worship with loved ones afar; consider joining an online service with family or friends in another community, or inviting them to join yours.
  • Many organizations are using a phone tree to maintain contact with their members.
  • Find out how your faith-based group is serving the community. Many faith-based organizations have modified their volunteer opportunities to fit new guidelines.  Volunteering can have positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person or community served.  Ask if your religious organization has volunteer opportunities or visit www.whatcomcovid.com/volunteer/ for more volunteer options.
  • Plan to share a special meal, readings, songs, or other traditions in your household. If you typically would invite others, use a livestream option to “gather” together. 
  • It’s ok to choose quiet and contemplation too. Many of us feel exhausted and stressed right now. It’s enough to fill your own heart first. Prayer, meditation, or mindfulness can reduce stress and improve mental health.

Participating in religious events often provides people with a sense of comfort and peace. And that can be especially important during this stressful time. Staying home may change the way you typically observe, celebrate, and participate in religious events but it doesn’t take it away. In addition to finding new and creative ways to celebrate and participate in religious services, it’s important to remember that staying home is an act of love and service. 

We have developed a resource for religious leaders looking to find alternative ways to support their congregations. It can be found here 

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