How online tools are allowing Utah faith communities to carry on religious rituals

The Rowe family, Natalie, 9, left; Judy; Mariella,13; and Dave Rowe participate in a Seventh-day Adventist church service from their home in Park City to comply with coronavirus precautions limiting gatherings in the state on Saturday, March 21, 2020.

The Rowe family, Natalie, 9, left, mother Judy, Mariella, 13, and father Dave, participate in a Seventh-day Adventist Church service from their home in Park City on Saturday, March 21, 2020, to comply with coronavirus precautions limiting gatherings in the state. | Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

PARK CITY — For worship services this week, David and Judy Rowe and their two daughters, Mariella and Natalie, sang songs, bowed heads in prayer, attended classes, heard inspiring messages and engaged in fun activities that taught gospel-centered lessons.

The family of four came away spiritually edified, just like any weekend, as members of Wasatch Hills Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

The only difference was this time the Rowes watched church services from their living room sofa via a laptop screen, in compliance with guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“I thought it went amazingly smoothly,” said Judy Rowe, who added that services even ended just about on time. “I think the kids had a good time. They looked engaged as you looked at the video screen. … It was educational, spiritually edifying. I think it accomplished what happens when we go to church every week.”

Like the Rowes and their church, many faith communities across Utah are turning to technology in various forms to continue religious traditions and rituals without in-person meetings or gatherings.

More than 40 people joined the Wasatch Hills video church service Saturday, the day when Seventh-Day Adventists observe the Sabbath. One family led songs with voices and guitar while others were muted but could sing along in their homes.

Another family performed a puppet show with a meaningful message to be a good friend and help people in need.

A pastor held a show and tell with personal items he’d collected over his lifetime, including a small facial cast he wore after he broke his nose in high school. He used the items to teach the children that God cares about the little details of their lives.

The families also engaged in a 30-question Kahoot! game and a “Guess-who” Bible contest, among other activities.

Three families conducted a pilot video meeting last week to work out the bugs, which made a big difference this week, the Rowes said.

“We had to be more orderly this time,” Judy Rowe said, “because there were a lot of wiggly kids.”

As part of their Sabbath meeting schedule, David Rowe moderated a video class for 14- to 18-year-olds who have been troubled by recent events. Not only was it beneficial to see each other again, but the video class provided a forum for the youths to ask questions and have a discussion. Wasatch Hills is considering the idea of having more virtual gatherings for youth during the week, he said.

“They are processing being an adult at a time like this,” said David Rowe, who is nursing a fever and bad cough. “They talk to parents and teachers, but I think it’s kind of important for them to process what they are thinking about with each …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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