Religious Organizations Find Ways to Stay Connected

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Many religious centers around Ohio remain closed after Gov. Mike DeWine extended the stay-at-home order through the beginning of May. 

These centers provide essential community support to many Ohioans. And now, as mental health advocates in the state are pressing the importance of maintaining a routine and social interaction, religious organizations are finding new ways to interact with their members.

Image courtesy of Ohio University Hillel.

Ohio University student Lilli Sher is a member of OU Hillel and said that they are providing many resources including live-streaming candle lighting, Kiddush and hosting online cooking and Torah learning classes.

“When I was still in Athens I was able to pick-up a Shabbat to-go box,” Sher said. “That’s a big part of my week that I normally go to those services but now Hillel is providing that for people in Athens.”

And with major holidays coming up for two faiths, people are finding new ways to celebrate. 

Katie Hamrock, a parishioner St. Brendan’s church in Hilliard, said she is celebrating Easter and weekly masses over Facebook Live.

Image courtesy of St. Brendan church in Hilliard, Ohio.

“Our priest is setting up all the equipment he needs and saying the mass for all of us over Facebook Live and hopefully over YouTube soon,” she said. “Tons of Catholic priests are doing this all over the nation so you can tune into whoever you want.”

Hamrock also noted that this is a way for her to expand her faith and hear many different messages.

“We have our usual service and then we tune into another one to hear another message from a different priest,” she said.

And as the Jewish holiday Passover approaches, people are uniting over group video chat services.

“Normally it’s a big deal to gather with a lot of people over Passover,” Sher said. “But it’s just going to be me and my dad, probably doing something over Zoom. So you know it’s different, but we will still be keeping Passover and everything. Just trying to maintain some normalcy even though life is weird right now.”

Maintaining a sense of community is especially important in times when people cannot physically connect.

St. Brendan Vine, the church youth group, at their now online weekly meeting.

“We decided to start going online through Zoom and hosting virtual youth group,” Hamrock said. “It’s just a lot of fun being able to still connect with those important communities in our lives.”

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services offers weekly tips on how to stay connected with different communities.