Local religious organizations in Spring and Klein are doing what they can to offer community, support and spiritual guidance in a time when social distancing has become the new norm.
With daily prayers and weekly Friday congregations canceled until further notice, Klein Islamic Center imam Hamzah Ghia said the closings come at a time when many people are under heightened stress due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“A lot of people have emotional distress and anxiety,” he said. “The mosque was a way for them to get closer to God and at the same time meet [with] family and friends and brothers and sisters in the community."
Likewise, Bruce Frogge, a pastor at Cypress Creek Christian Church and Community Center, said while in-person encounters are important for community members to practice, current circumstances have inspired innovation for the church.
“Like most faith-based communities, there is something about not just face-to-face interaction, but the ability to join hands in a prayer, to be able to come alongside somebody in grief or fear and to offer a hug, to be able to put a hand upon a shoulder and pray with that individual,” Frogge said. “But that doesn't mean that we have decided to pack it up. Again, we’re getting creative.”
To continue providing services and support, many local religious organizations have moved online. The Klein Islamic Center now offers events such as Friday night reflections via Facebook Live, prerecorded lecture series and talks, and other resources online. Ghia said since the mosque’s closing, he has even seen an increase in attendance for online events compared to prepandemic conditions.
“It's not the same, but ... [it's] the only option we have with the current situation,” Ghia said. “A lot of people have a lot more free time because they can't really go anywhere.”
For Cypress Creek Christian Church and Community Center, Frogge said the digital experience has allowed him to see community members in a new virtual light.
“I have been just overjoyed with members of my congregation that maybe are not terribly tech savvy,” Frogge said. “Had I just said on any ordinary day, 'Hey, join me on a Zoom [video conference] call,' there's no way they would have tried, and yet they're doing it.”
In addition to social gatherings via Zoom, online Bible study classes and livestream sermons, Frogge said the church is now preparing for a virtual Easter Sunday worship experience. This year, Frogge said the church will be incorporating videos of musical performances, theatrical skits and other submissions from the congregation into the service.
“We're trying to figure out ways of involving people as much as possible in the congregation, ... different things that we're trying to do that enhance the worship experience,” he said. “In this time where we are in a pause, it gives people a sense of purpose, and it allows them to let them share their gifts.”
Similarly, with the fasting month of Ramadan quickly approaching at the end of April, Ghia said the Klein Islamic Center still plans to hold its annual food drive in support of families who cannot afford to break fast. Although the mosque will still most likely be closed for the beginning of Ramadan, Ghia said online resources such as Facebook will still be available to the community.
“I'm hoping and praying that we get through all of this soon and we can go back to meeting with our communities and praying together, helping those who are in need in a better way,” Ghia said.
On April 1, Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton issued joint guidance establishing religious organizations as “essential business” still subject to social distancing measures in regard to recent closures as a result of the pandemic. Despite this, however, Ghia said the Klein Islamic Center will continue to operate virtually.
“To be honest, we're still not going to open up,” Ghia said. “We have options of listening to lectures online, ... we still believe that safety [comes] first, and if we open our doors everyone's going to come in, and that can cause more harm than benefit currently.”
In the same vein, Cypress Creek Christian Church and Community Center will maintain a virtual status to curb the spread of the virus.
“The smart thing to do in this moment, and the faithful thing to do, is be respectful of other people and to recognize our decisions, ... save lives down the road,” Frogge said.
Readers and religious organizations can share updates with the Spring and Klein editorial team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. This list is not comprehensive.
- Christ the Good Shepherd Catholic Church is currently offering live Bible study classes and worship services via Facebook.
- The Daily Bread Church is now offering online worship services at 11 a.m. on Sundays via Facebook. The church also posts online bible study classes in addition to pep talks from pastor and founder Ellis Powell.
- Saint Dunstan’s Episcopal Church does daily, midday minutelong prayers via Facebook and will be offering a casual coffee hour through Zoom on April 6 at 8 a.m.
- Fallbrook Church posts livestream worship services and a children’s ministry via Facebook. The church will also be holding a contact-less, drive-thru food pantry on April 4 at 10 a.m. in partnership with U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, and the Houston Food Bank, where staff members will place goods in the trunks of cars.
- Kinsmen Lutheran Church offers daily prayer services and livestreams children’s book readings and children’s chapel services via Facebook.
- Trinity Klein Lutheran Church holds live worship services and Bible study classes on its Facebook page and website.
- Christchurch Baptist Fellowship is now offering children’s Bible lessons, radio programs and musical worship services via Facebook.
- Masjid Al Salam conducts community announcements on Facebook and offers virtual parent support sessions, sermons and an inspirational talk series.
- Congregation Jewish Community North hosts virtual musical performances, Shabbat service livestreams and Zoom Shabbat study conferences via Facebook.