Outdoor worship in the time of COVID-19

Adjusting to COVID-19 regulations, students rejoice in outdoor sermons “surrounded in God’s creation” for fall 2020.

The ministry had picked three dates for outdoor worship this fall. The final one was Tuesday, Sept. 22 when Colin Irvine, provost and executive vice president, lead a sermon for ASA installation. 

The adjusted chapel worship hours are Tuesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. Each service is 25 minutes. Tuesday’s services include holy communions, and Thursdays feature senior sermons. 

This fall the chapel’s indoor capacity is limited to 75 individuals. This number can be challenging. Anywhere from 30 to 150 individuals typically attend sermons, according to the Rev. Ann Rosendale.

“Outdoor worship provides us more space to gather on the campus green,” Rosendale said.

Adjusting to the setbacks, students are making the best of each outdoor worship experience. 

“People like being outside. It’s different. It’s new,” senior Audrey Cope said. “It adds a layer of comfort to fears about coronavirus.” 

The outdoor experience is not the only change students have to adjust to, however.

Every Tuesday for communion, students now grab a prepackaged cup of grape juice and wafers. Hymnals are not provided in the pews or outdoors, so the chapel has progressed to an online bulletin, which can be accessed from posters within the chapel. 

Currently, there is no contact tracing for individuals coming to either indoor or outdoor worship. Chapel staff do, however, count whether the 75-person capacity inside has been reached. If indoor worship reaches maximum capacity or individuals do not feel comfortable or cannot gather, live streaming is available online.

By having the live streaming option for each sermon, it opens up the possibility for professors or family members to tune into specific sermons, as well. Cope mentioned that family members of hers enjoyed tuning in online to watch her senior sermon. They also liked the ability to rewatch the livestream.

COVID-19 prohibits speaking and singing in unison without an approved face shield. Taking the restriction in stride, the chapel services connect with God in a different way by readjusting to new praying initiatives.

One of these initiatives is body prayers, when students use actions to follow along. 

“We use our bodies to lift our prayers to God,” Rosendale Ann Rosendale. “We see it as an opportunity to engage our hearts and our spirits and our bodies.” 

This could be dancing, clapping or snapping. 

“It is a good opportunity to challenge people in new ways,” Cope said. 

With all the adjustments this fall, senior chapel president Claire Eiswirth believes that Rosendale and chapel staff are doing a great job of accomodating people and making them feel safe while still showing God’s grace.

“Chapel is here and we are trying,” Eiswirth said. 

Leave a Reply

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: