Holy Week is generally a time when churches see a boost in attendance. But with the current CDC guidelines limiting social gatherings to no more than 10 people, religious institutions have shut their doors leaving some church leaders in search of other ways to stay connected with their respected congregations.
Finch Hill Baptist Church in Greenfield Twp., First Presbyterian Church in Carbondale, Parker Hill Church in Dickson City, St. John’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Mayfield and United Methodist Church in Tompkinsville are just some of the local churches that are using social media and video streaming services to stay connected with the community.
Most of the valley’s churches began taking measures last month, after the extent of the pandemic became clearer. Rev. James Price, pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Rose of Lima churches in Carbondale, is one of several church leaders who adapted worship services to provide an at-home online streaming experience. Price, better known as Fr. Jim, posts daily video reflections and news updates on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, which allows him to connect with the churches’ parishioners.
On March 12, Bishop Joseph Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton, in union with the Bishops of Pennsylvania, suspended Masses and public gatherings for all 118 churches within the Diocese, including Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Rose of Lima.
“People very much miss receiving the Eucharist, participating in mass and coming together to worship,” said Price. “This week would be a time for many people to take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation as well. Everyone is very much thrown off balance, like everyone around us is.”
For Holy Week, parishioners can visit the Diocese of Scranton website, where Bishop Joseph Bambera will preside over all the liturgies. A private Mass will be celebrated daily in the Cathedral of St. Peter, Scranton, and available on Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton. The Mass will be broadcast at 12:10, 3:30 and 7 p.m. on weekdays; the Saturday Vigil Mass will be broadcast at 4 p.m. and rebroadcast at 10 a.m. on Sunday. The Easter Vigil is at 8 p.m. A renewal of Baptismal promises will also be given.
“This Holy Week is our participation in the Passion of Jesus,” said Price. “We are not used to being without. Now we are all asked to look into the depths of our faith. We are being asked to die and rise with him in a way that we have never done before.”
Six miles south of Carbondale at Peckville Assembly of God, Lead Pastor Terry Drost is working diligently to provide his parish with various options to maintain their connection. Drost and his wife Becky have been the lead pastors of Peckville Assembly of God since 2005, following his parents. Like Price, Drost provides his nearly 1,000 parishioners with safe, convenient alternatives of staying connected with the church without putting their health in jeopardy.
On Sunday, churchgoers will trade pews for car seats. Easter Sunday Drive In Church will be available from the church parking lot on 91.3 FM Radio at 7, 9 and 11 a.m. Television broadcasts and digital streams of the Sunday service will also be available.
“In addition to broadcast and podcast TV on multiple channels, we’ll have streaming services all week,” said Drost. “We’ll have Easter Sunday Drive In Church is at 7, 9 and 11 a.m.”
For more info on Peckville Assembly of God, visit peckvilleag.org or check out the church’s Facebook page.