Canadian clergy move prayers, services online amid coronavirus pandemic

Clergy across Canada are moving services to the digital world as they adapt to support their congregations amid the global coronavirus pandemic that has seen governments restrict large gatherings.

Religious leaders say the unprecedented situation has forced them to seek creative alternatives to community-based worship at a time when people are anxious and in need of spiritual support.

Directing people to livestreamed services and prayers has been relatively simple for some.

Pastor Mike Miller, who preaches to a 400-strong congregation at Halifax’s Nova Church, had already been posting audio podcasts of Sunday services to his church’s website. Recent restrictions from health officials nudged his church towards finalizing a video livestream option that had been in the works.

“As a church, we really feel like the motive never changes, but the method can,” Miller said.

Last Sunday’s service reached about 2,000 live viewers, five times more than would typically attend in person. People tuned in from other Canadian cities and around the world.

“We saw some positive come out, as far as we could encourage and reach people beyond our normal attendance,” Miller said

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