Reverend Linda Hunsaker.

Church-going Iowans aren’t able to go to church because of the pandemic and many church leaders are resorting to posting their sermons on the internet.

Reverend Linda Hunsaker, from First Christian Church in Davenport, says dozens of members — and non-members — are watching her Sunday sermons via Facebook Live. Despite being online instead of in-person, the services include communion.

Reverend Hunsaker says, “I invite folks at the beginning of the service to grab something so they can participate in communion, whether it be a donut and a cup of coffee or a Goldfish cracker and some juice, and I ask everybody to join us when we get to that part of the service.”

Hunsaker thinks some sort of weekly online service may continue after the pandemic is over and it’s safe to meet in person.
“I have some shut-in members that for health reasons have not been able to join us in worship, but now all of a sudden are participating online,” Hunsaker says. “I think it really has added value to their week. They don’t feel disconnected any more to their church and that’s exactly what we’re trying to create during this time.” Hunsaker is wondering about Easter and may try to hold a service in the parking lot with drive-through communion.

Pastor Chad Halbach, of the Webster City Church of Christ, says he’s posting video messages on Sundays for his congregation. “We are doing videos throughout the week, too, and I think that’s an important thing that we stay connected,” Pastor Halbach says. “I’m trying to do some five-minute videos, just some minor teaching to encourage people and to get some scripture out there that really speaks to being courageous and faithful and trusting.”

Like everyone else, Halbach can only guess about when the ban on gatherings of ten or more people will be lifted. “I don’t think that we’ll be meeting before Easter and I wonder whether we’ll be meeting in May,” Halbach says. “We’re trying to have a long-range plan of, if we don’t meet for the next six weeks, what do we do and how do we handle that?”

Here’s a snippet of Sunday’s sermon from Reverend Jeremy Wind, at the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City, as he addressed the coronavirus outbreak: “What we’re going through now is strange,” Reverend Wind says. “Jesus is permitting us to suffer, but he has something even greater in mind. Jesus can increase our faith. Jesus can give us more love. Jesus can resurrect us spiritually. Courage, my friends. Have faith in Jesus.”

Many Iowa churches are working to meet the struggle of monetary contributions from their members due to COVID-19 and the economy — since all in-person worship services are canceled. Some churches are encouraging members to mail in their tithes and donations, while others have set up online accounts so people can send their offerings electronically.

(By Herb Trix, WVIK, Rock Island and Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)