Under these unusual circumstances, churches find new ways to connect as Easter approaches

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - People of faith rely on their beliefs and weekly face-to-face fellowship to get them through challenging times. As we battle COVID-19 which closed doors to the buildings, faith leaders found new ways to meet their congregations' needs.

"We know God's Word is true, whether we're in a crisis or a time of celebration," Pastor Jeffrey A. Johnson Sr. of Eastern Star Church professed.

Pastor Johnson leads some 17,000 members and countless visitors. He is finding new ways to connect with them through social media, the church's website and video conference calls.

"We've extended our time on the radio, we've gone to a television program just to make sure we're reaching everybody that actually is trying to get the Gospel," Johnson explained.

If you would like to learn more about Eastern Star Church's services, visit www.easternstarchurch.org.

Father Jim Farrell and his team at the St. Pius X Catholic Parish offer daily livestreamed masses in the mornings and online evening devotionals. Farrell said the parishioners who watch and comment online in the way they would respond at mass is encouraging.

"After it's over I'll check and notice that people were commenting during the service with the usual responses they would give while they were in prayer, whether it be "Lord, hear our prayer" or 'Amen, thanks be to God,'" Farrell said.

You can find out more information about St. Pius X Catholic Parish by visiting www.spxparish.org.

Rev. Rob Fuquay of St. Luke's United Methodist Church recognizes how easily fear and anxiety can creep in, especially in a time like this. His team is making sure each member receives a call to check in, and they have volunteers available to deliver necessities to them.

Rev. Fuquay said some of his members, like most churches, have been personally impacted by COVID-19 diagnoses. This chapter is difficult on everyone.

"We're just learning to listen," Fuquay said. "Let people talk and let people share that, and then pray with them about that."

If you would like to learn more about St. Luke's UMC, visit www.stlukesumc.com.

College Park Church split up their congregation into regions geographically, then a deacon or elder is assigned to that area to check on their members.

"This is a community issue," Pastor Mark Vroegop said. "But it has individual stories and individual tragedies and individual needs."

College Park Church is planning to offer online counseling services to the community at no cost to the people. Vroegop explained the church's counseling ministry will meet with them during a Zoom or Skype call.

The church is hoping to begin these services after Easter.

"Somebody that's struggling with anxiety or fear who's like, "Hey, I want to talk to somebody," we're opening up our central staff and other counselors to be able to say, "Hey, we're here and we'd love to talk with you" and maybe we can provide some help," Vroegop said.

If you would like to learn more about College Park Church, visit www.yourchurch.com.

The hope for Christians is Easter is coming regardless of whether the message is heard inside a building or inside your home.

"The reality of Easter is so far beyond whether we're sitting in a church, or whether we're doing our routines," Rev. Fuquay said. "The Truth and the promise of hope and new life, and the God who gets us to better places, that is what's important."

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