By Jake Holland
Instead of preaching to a live crowd, replete with white-haired parishioners and toddlers wobbling up and down the nave, Pastor Ryan Kapple has found himself facing the empty pews, delivering sermons via livestream to no one in particular.
High-definition cameras track and record Kapple’s every move and turn of phrase, transmitting his services via Facebook Live to the 300 or so members who frequent Leawood Presbyterian Church in suburban Kansas City.
Like nearly every institution in American life, places of worship — churches, synagogues, mosques and the like — have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus and subsequent social distancing measures.
No longer are Christians able to physically gather as one, to sway to sweet hymnals and nod their heads when a verse speaks to them. No longer are Jews able to join together at the synagogue for weekly Shabbat dinners, and no longer are Muslims able to lay side by side in the mosque to pray.
But amidst the uncertainty and lack of physical meetings, religious leaders have turned to online platforms to practice their faith with community members. These measures are hardly a substitute for in-person worship, but they allow people of faith to find support from their community and their religion at a time when so much else remains up in the air.
“Gathering is essential to institutions of faith, and gathering is part of the human experience,” Kapple said. “It’s been a challenge, definitely, adjusting to our new normal.”