A delegation of local churches have been participating in a seven-day period of prayer and fasting this week, hosting the event online via Zoom as the NSW statewide lockdown was announced.
The time of renewed focus was hosted by various churches in the region, including the Tumut Anglican, Tumut Catholic, Tumut Community, Tumba Community, Hope Church in Wagga and Cootamundra Combined Churches.
Alongside the evening prayer meetings, individual churches have similarly turned online to host their weekly services.
For health reasons, Pastor Eddie Olsen at the Tumut Community Church didn’t host his service last week as planned, but used the benefits of technology to connect his congregation with the online Southside Christian Fellowship service, based in southern Sydney.
Tumut Baptist Church linked congregants with a service streamed from the Wagga Baptist Church at https://www.wwbc.org, along with a family-friendly presentation from Ron and Pam Schravemade at Gundagai Baptist Church, which was hosted on the Tumut Baptist Church Facebook page.
At Tumut Anglican Church, Reverend Mark Evers said the morning service was held via Zoom, with capacity to include the entire congregation.
“It went pretty well,” he said.
The online service includes the regular features of an Anglican service, with prayer, a Bible reading, Christian hymns, an explanation of the Bible passage and the Anglican liturgy.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how things go this week now that people have had a week to get used to the idea,” said Rev Evers, ahead of the second Sunday of the lockdown.
“I and the whole congregation are hoping that things go back to normal quicker, sooner rather than later.”
Rev Evers said that his congregation was largely understanding and supportive of the need for online services, but felt that there is still a sense of lockdown fatigue in the community.
“People are frustrated, that’s my sense, but understand the requirement for the restrictions and so forth,” he said.
Anyone wishing to join an Anglican Zoom meeting should contact the office at 6947 1155.
Meantime, Father George Ogah at the Tumut Catholic Church said he would be holding his own private Mass this week, while parishioners participate in a Mass streamed from Canberra.
“Weekly, we send out bulletins which include all the readings for Sunday and I will normally write a brief reflection and we send it to our parishioners via email,” he added.
“A lot of parishioners surprisingly join that mass online and a Zoom Rosary has also been organised.”
The Zoom Rosary, held Thursdays and Fridays with the Archbishop, has proven so popular that Fr Ogah said some people weren’t able to find space in the virtual meeting last week.
“Surprisingly, last week it was filled. It is going to be expanded this time,” he said.
Although the churches are grateful for the ability to still encourage congregations online, Fr Ogah said “it’s not the same”.
“When they [attend Mass] in person, they receive the Holy Communion, but in this case, what we do is the spiritual communion prayer with them.”
Fr Ogah said the streaming services from Canberra will continue as long as the lockdown remains in place for Regional NSW.
The link to the Canberra Mass can be found at https://www.catholicvoice.org.au/mass-online/.