Churches around the West Linn area have moved their services online as large gatherings are banned by authorities

PMG PHOTO: HOLLY BARTHOLOMEW - West Linn Lutheran Church, and several others in the area have moved their services online. Religion and technology are coming together like never before as places of worship turn to the web to broadcast their sermons during the COVID-19 outbreak, which has confined people all over the world to their homes.

Preachers, ministers, rabbis, imams, and other faith leaders whose voices typically fill their respective houses of worship are now preaching and leading prayer through internet broadcasts. Churches in West Linn and Wilsonville are no different, closing their doors to protect their parishioners and prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19.

Athey Creek Christian Fellowship, the West Linn Lutheran Church, Willamette Christian Church, Southlake Church and Community of Faith Church have all put in-person gatherings on hold and begun broadcasting their services online.

"There's so much connection that happens on a Sunday morning," said Jake Schwein, a pastor at Grace Chapel in Wilsonville. "How do we (replicate) that? That's probably the biggest thing we're missing is the community aspect."

Still, for some, religion and the church community continue to be a pillar for people to lean on in uncertain times.

"What we are seeing is an outpouring of love and support throughout our congregation for each other and for those around us," said Laura Heidgerken, business manager at Community of Faith Church in Willamette.

PMG PHOTO JAIME VALDEZ - Pastor Jake Schwein adjusts a light on Pastor Jen McCourt before recording a service at Grace Chapel in Wilsonville. Despite the inability to meet in person in large groups, or even come within 6 feet of another person, churches in the community are doing their best to keep things as normal as possible for their followers.

In addition to the online services, Athey Creek Christian Fellowship will also host online Bible teachings for junior high and high school kids. West Linn Lutheran Church will host evening prayers over Zoom to allow for conversation, and Willamette Christian Church will have worship activities and lessons available online for kids.

Pastors at Wilsonville's Grace Chapel have turned an office at the church into a recording studio from which they broadcast their sermons. They also allow Creekside Bible Church to use the facility for the same purpose.

Grace Chapel uses monitors and lighting and audio equipment for its broadcasted services, but Schwein said that it doesn't take much for a church to disseminate its message across the internet. It doesn't take much to connect people.

Still some churches like Southlake, which began broadcasting services before the ban on large gatherings, have managed to incorporate live music into their broadcasted services.

But not all places of worship have managed to translate their sermons to the web. West Linn's New Life Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Unity Center have postponed all services for the time being.

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