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Religious leaders in Park City reassure congregations during COVID-19 uncertainty

Father Christopher Gray of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and his staff adjusted and moved various services to a virtual format to adhere to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Park Record file photo

Local church and synagogue virtual programs

Chabad Lubavitch of Park City:

• Torah Study, Tuesdays, 2:30 p.m.

• Pre Shabbat gatherings, Saturdays, 5 p.m.

• Weekly service, date to be announced, 7 p.m.

For information, visit jewishparkcity.com or call 435-714-8590

Mountain Life Church:

• Sunday morning worship services live streams weekly at 9 a.m. (English) and 10:15 a.m. (Spanish) on Mountain Life’s Facebook page, mobile app and website, mountainlife.org

• Good Friday Communion service, April 10, 7 p.m. (English)

• Easter Sunday services, April 12, 9 a.m. (English) and 10:15 a.m. (Spanish)

• Weekday daily devotionals at mountainlife.org

• Kids Ministry resources, worship and family activities on instagram.com/mtnlifekids

• Student Ministry Bible reading, connection and live teaching on nstagram.com/mtnlifestudents

• Student Ministry Parent Connection Nights via Zoom

• Life Groups and counseling via Zoom

• Helpline (phone and email) for regular attenders and members to reach out for prayer or assistance

• Prayer requests can also be submitted on the church’s mobile app

For information, visit mountainlife.org

Park City Community Church:

• All Sunday morning worship posts

• Wednesday evening congregational check-in, “Candid Camera,” via Zoom

• Family, children and youth ministry resources posts

• Adult and children’s weekly Lenten devotionals posts

• Virtual choir

• Small groups continuing to meet via Zoom

• Prayer concerns submissions and congregational prayers each week at parkcitychurch.org

• Sign-up for congregants to help others or receive assistance at parkcitychurch.org

For information and posts, visit parkcitychurch.org

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

• No online worship services at the moment, but Rev. Charles Robinson encourages members to view the Sunday services offered by the National Cathedral, available by visiting cathedral.org

• New teaching series that will include a brief video of a PowerPoint presentation on some aspects of Holy Week starting with the meaning of Palm Sunday amidst the current crisis People will be able to view the lecture at their leisure. A day or two later, we will use Zoom to gather those who would like to discuss the material. A new session will be released approximately every three days.

• Study group meetings via Zoom

• “Community Connections Program” coordinated by Linda Dugins where all of the members of the community are contacted by other members on a regular basis

For information, visit stlukesparkcity.org

St. Mary’s Catholic Church

• Virtual Morning Coffee with Fr. Gray — 9-9:30 a.m., daily, including Sundays. For information, visit stmarysparkcity.com/coffee

• Live Virtual Pastoral Talk and Q&A — Thursdays, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Log in to the video call at stmarysparkcity.com/virtualwayofchrist

• A St. Mary’s Minute — Daily Video Reflection, recorded and offered all day

• St. Mary’s Own Daily Lenten E-Reflection. Sign up at stmarysparkcity.com/lent

For information, visit stmarysparkcity.com.

Temple Har Shalom

• Friday evening service at 6:30 p.m., with a virtual meet-up afterwards

• Virtual religious school lessons, times vary

• Meditation and Torah study Saturday mornings, 9 a.m.

• Teen Meet up Fridays, 4 p.m.

• Song session with the tots, Mondays, 4:30 p.m.

For information, visit harshalomparkcity.org

Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church • Online Spoken Word Worship Bulletins and Zoom links • Book study of “Dear Church” by Lenny Duncan, Wednesdays, 7 p.m. • Scotch and Tea with Pastor Steve Leiser, Sundays, 2 p.m.

During these uncertain times compounded by the COVID-19 isolations, local religious leaders have found digital ways to engage their congregations.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Park City Community Church, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Mountain Life Church, Shepherd of the Mountains, Temple Har Shalom and Chabad of Park City are not only hosting services online, but also coming up with new programs to serve their members (See list).

Father Christopher Gray of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and Rabbi Yudi Steiger, director of Chabad Lubavitch of Park City, offered some insight on their programs.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church

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Father Christopher Gray of St. Mary’s Catholic Church says online offerings, no matter what church or synagogue hosting them, are a new way to reassure community members and show them that they are not alone.

“Even before all of this started, I had a meeting with someone who wanted to talk about ways in which we were approaching people’s mental health,” Gray said. “At the end of the meeting, the person mentioned that having everything uncertain, having everything change, is psychological torture. Of course I can’t wave a wand and make all of this end, but we can all go through this together.”

When the Summit County Health Department began issuing COVID-19 restrictions, Gray and his staff at St. Mary’s knew they wanted to do as much online content as they could, he said.

“For months we’ve been trying to build up those platforms, anyway,” he said “We recently redid our website, and we’ve been focusing more attention on Facebook and other social media. So, it became a natural growth of that.”

The challenge was figuring out how to provide the services and not have to work 24 hours a day, so they came up with some set-time programming, especially during the time leading up to Easter.

The first initiated program was St. Mary’s Minute, a one- to two-minute daily video reflection that covers topics such as prayer, patience, prudence and worship.

“It’s just a little recording I do, and we add a little production onto the media,” Gray said. “The reason why I liked this idea is because it’s short and captures people’s attention spans.”

With the success of St. Mary’s Minute, Gray decided to move another program — “The Way of Christ” — from the chapel to the laptop.

“We were going through this book called ‘The Way of Christ’ when we gathered as a parish every Thursday night,” he said. “It was also an opportunity for people to ask me any questions they wanted to and I would give a crazy answer, and try my best to sound coherent.”

The program became a live pastoral talk that is held through Zoom from 6:30-7:30 p.m. every Thursday.

“It was easy to translate onto Zoom, especially with the assistance of our Parish Council president Kim Tosti,” Gray said. “She had a lot of experience with Zoom, and we didn’t.”

The one thing that Gray doesn’t do online is hold mass.

“I don’t like online mass very much, because it takes away the interaction with your neighbors,” he said. “So we decided to do something called Coffee with Father Gray.”

These sessions, which are open to the public, are offered daily, including Sunday, from 9-9:30 a.m., and people can log in as early as 8:50 a.m. to virtually mingle with their friends, according to Gray.

“We’ll chat a bit after people call in, and then they’ll send in their prayer intentions,” he said. “We then will read a bit of scripture and then pray for those intentions. Again, it’s short, and a nice way to start the day.”

Gray also said that all the assistance services St. Mary’s offers, including a food bank and rent and utility assistance, are still available.

“I’m very happy to respond with what’s happening during this time with the St. Mary’s spirit by doing what we can openly and pragmatically,” he said. “Even though the church doors are closed, I’m still here for people if they need to talk to a priest. I’m here if people need sacraments for (Holy Communion) or a confession. We will try to make them work.”

Chabad Lubovich of Park City

The COVID-19 social distancing requirements weren’t too much of a challenge for Chabad Lubavitch of Park City, because Rabbi Yudi Steiger feels the Jewish life, at its core, is “home based.”

“(From home) we can look at the world around us and see all that’s bad and gone wrong, or we can focus on how Jewish tradition can make this a beautiful and meaningful experience,” he said.

In keeping with the regulations set by the Summit County Health Department, Chabad Lubavitch of Park City began holding its Torah study classes, which were originally held at the Jewish Community Center on Park Avenue, through Zoom.

Keeping the classes ongoing is a way for Steiger to keep connected with Park City.

“During this time of required physical distancing, it’s more important now than ever to keep the bonds of community strong,” Steiger said. “Saving lives takes precedence over everything, and our focus is on how best to serve our community while putting the preservation of life first and foremost.”

To do that Chabad of Park City is recruiting volunteers to safely help others in need, according to Steiger’s wife, Devori.

“Whether it’s staying in touch with someone in quarantine or picking up groceries for the elderly, there is so much to be done at this time,” she said. “We are praying for the full and speedy recovery of everyone who has been affected by this terrible virus. Faith, tradition and community has never been more important than now. With the help of God and community, we will come out of this stronger than ever before.”


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