Written by Rev. Cindy Bumb, Vice President of Spiritual Care
When Emmaus made the decision on March 13 to quarantine our clients in their homes due to coronavirus, the decision was also made to suspend all in-person group activities. This included suspension of the weekly worship services and Bible studies that were held at Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in St. Charles, and at Friedens Peace United Church of Christ in New Melle.
However, Pastor Cindy and Pastor Andrea knew that providing spiritual care was even more important in such a difficult time. So, the next week, the two Chaplains were busy preparing some spiritual care activities that could be accessed over the Internet. For several weeks, they videotaped short inspirational devotions, complete with Scripture, short meditation, song, and prayer. These devotions were available over an Emmaus YouTube channel.
The Chaplains also began to videotape a longer worship service that could be viewed on Sunday, or whenever someone wished to worship. These worship services are similar to those held in-person, and include Scripture, music, prayer, and a sermon. The use of a videotaped format allows for creativity, so a slideshow of Emmaus at worship, and videos from other sources (such as a sock puppet Pentecost play!) have also been incorporated.
Once it became clear that quarantine and shelter-in-place would need to continue past March, weekly Bible studies were begun, using Zoom. Zoom allows Chaplains, our Eden seminary student intern, clients, and staff to gather together at the same time online. Even though separated, each in our own homes, we still get to see each other and visit! Weekly online Bible study has been joyful and uplifting!
Providing personalized spiritual care has been much more difficult during the pandemic, as the Chaplains cannot make visits to hospitals, nursing homes, or client homes. Some spiritual care has been provided through phone calls, letters and cards, and online visits. Pastor Cindy recently conducted a memorial service to remember three Emmaus clients over Zoom.
New challenges call for new solutions! Pastor Andrea and Pastor Cindy have found that offering spiritual care activities online brings new people to our services, who may not have attended otherwise. YouTube worship services allow people to watch and worship whenever they wish. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is doing new things here at Emmaus! Thanks be to God!