With Passover and Easter quickly approaching, religious organizations and state officials are encouraging people to find alternatives to large group celebrations.
Easter Sunday falls on April 12 and Passover begins on Thursday (April 9) and ends on April 16 this year — around when statisticians hypothesize COVID-19 will peak in the D.C. area.
To obey state mandates and keep their followers healthy, religious groups such as St Joseph Catholic Church and the Congregation Beth Emeth in Herndon decided to host celebrations digitally and provide guides for stay-at-home worship.
For Christians, Easter is a celebration of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, while Passover is a Jewish holiday to commemorate the liberation of the Children of Israel who were led out of Egypt by Moses.
Fairfax County released a statement reminding people that it is illegal to gather in groups of 10 or more and requested that people celebrate at home with immediate family members.
“Consider the use of technology to gather people virtually in your home to have shared meals,” the statement said. “Through various media platforms, communal sharing and celebration of religious observances can continue while keeping each other safe.”
Similar recommendations will be in place for Ramadan, which begins later in the month.
The Virginia Department of Health also released a public service announcement, primarily echoing Fairfax County’s statement.
“While the Passover Seder often includes extended family and friends, it is by tradition a ceremony of the home,” the Virginia Department of Health said. “The essence of the Seder can be the same: sitting with your family around the dining room table to remember the exodus.”
“The purpose of Jumu’a is to gather the entire community together in one place for prayer and since that cannot be done safely, imams are asking each person to pray in their own home,” according to the Virginia Department of Health.
The New York Times published an article exploring how added stress from the pandemic might influence people’s mindsets and emotions during the spring holiday season.
The article’s author encouraged readers to celebrate through family activities like video chatting, reading to one another, playing games and signing.
Congregation Beth Emeth held it’s first digital Passover celebration this morning and will host another tomorrow (April 9) at 9 a.m., the website link. People can tune in at the link listed on the group’s website, which also listed places locals can order kosher groceries and celebratory supplies.
St Joseph Catholic Church is hosting an online Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday night (April 11) at 8:30 p.m. as well as an Easter morning Mass in Spanish at 12 p.m. and English at 10 a.m. Links can be found on the church’s website.
Photo via Olivia Snow/Unsplash
During the COVID-19 outbreak, places of worship around Reston and Herndon are going digital for people who are self-isolating or quarantined.
Many pastors, priests and religious leaders are taking on leadership roles to help guide their following through stress and uncertainty associated with the outbreak.
May you find peace within you. May you be grateful for what is good even in uncertainty. May you be kind to another. May you remember to wash your hands. You are loved. #COVIDー19 #prayer #WednesdayThoughts
— Rev.Debra Haffner (@RevDebra) March 18, 2020
Reverend Debra Haffner is associated with the Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston. Her sermons are available for download on the church’s website.
Many religious centers are closed to the public, but a few are still holding events for regular attendees. Here’s what Reston Now has found in the area.
The Reston Presbyterian Chuch is offering live-streamed services for the congression now that in-person ceremonies have been canceled until further notice. Worshipers can tune into the service at 11 a.m. beginning Sunday (March 22), according to the church’s website. The event will be hosted through Facebook Live.
Oakbrook Church, a non-denominational gathering, is taking several steps to support followers during this time, according to the group’s Facebook page. Today (March 19) at 7 p.m., the congregation will host a Zoom session for people seeking digital companies.
St. John Neumann Catholic Community canceled gatherings of 10 or more people but is keeping its doors open for people who want to pray at least 10 feet apart from one another, according to the church’s website. Congregation leaders are also encouraging followers to watch digital Mass online on Sundays at 10:30 a.m.
“The priests at SJN will continue to offer private Masses and remember the intentions of parishioners,” according to the website.
At the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, people can attend live-streamed services beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday.
“We have modified our sanctuary setup, service plan, and camera placement to make our online congregation feel more intimate,” the website said. “Instead of using Mishkan T’filah, which we know many people do not own personal copies of, we have put together our own little siddur to guide us through tonight’s service.”
The Reston Islamic Center will remain open for men only, according to its website.
Shaolin Temple, a Buddhist place of worship, decided to close its center until further notice, according to the website.
Southview Community Church is doing Facebook Live events throughout the week, according to the web page. Each day, people can follow along with the church’s Facebook for announcements when church leaders will go live.
Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash
A Clifton-based priest has admitted to sexual abuse of a minor at Reston church.
According to a release by the Arlington Diocese, Father Christopher Mould told the Bishop of Arlington, Michael Burbridge that he had sexual contact with a minor between 1992 and 1995 at Saint Thomas à Becket Catholic Church in Reston. Mould was a parochial vicar at the time.
The release stated Burbridge reported the incident to the Fairfax County Police Department.
Here’s more from Bishop Burbridge:
Father Mould has expressed deep contrition for his actions, and he accepts that there will be serious and severe consequences for them.
The Diocese of Arlington is fully committed to a zero-tolerance policy related to sexual abuse of minors. Any such incident is a grave sin and a profound betrayal of trust. I express my heartfelt regret to the individual who was harmed by Father Mould’s actions. As is the case with any instance of sexual abuse of a minor, I have ensured that the counseling services of our Victim Assistance Coordinator are available to anyone who may need them.
The Diocese encourages anyone who knows of any misconduct or abuse on the part of any cleric or employee of the Diocese to report it to the Virginia Attorney General hotline (VirginiaClergyHotline.com) and local police, and also to contact the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at (703) 841-2530.
I realize that this information is difficult for you to receive. While justice and a commitment to the protection of children and young people make these actions prudent and necessary, it also brings me sadness to know the impact they have on your community.
Mould has since resigned as Pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Church and currently holds no church office. He is also barred from practicing priesthood, according to a statement by the Diocese.
A group of Muslims who live and work in Reston hope to open a permanent prayer space before Ramadan, the month of fasting, begins in early May. It will be located on the second floor of an existing building.
Organizers behind the Reston Islamic Center said the mosque serves a critical need: the closest mosque in the area is roughly 20 minutes away. For several years, the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation (1441 Wiehle Avenue) has served as a satellite location for Friday prayers. The site is one of several set up by the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (46903 Sugarland Road) in Sterling — which will continue operating and is a separate initiative from the new mosque. Currently, there is no dedicated space in the area to offer the five daily prayers that are central to the religion.
The new location is opposite Reston Town Center at 11701 Bowman Green Drive, which is also home to a church on the ground floor, according to organizers. They hope the center will make offering prayer easy for RTC-goers and local Muslims.
“In Northern Virginia, we have seen the Muslim community grow and the [mosques] grow with it. For Reston, however, we have yet to reach that point,” an organizer told Reston Now. “Due to the busy nature of this area… we want to form a space for families, children, and individuals to be able to get a break from that lifestyle and get back to learning the [religion],”
Paperwork and permitting is underway. The group set up a LaunchGood campaign to raise $10,000. So far, $6,419 has been raised to finance the effort. The group hopes that donations from mosque-goers will sustain the mosque over the next couple of years.
Photo via Reston Islamic Center
The Social Justice & Peace Conference, hosted by United Christian Parish (11508 North Shore Drive), will include workshops on how people from different religious backgrounds can support immigrants, the trans community, environmental justice and more.
The event’s keynote speaker will be Dr. B. Chris Dorsey, president of Higher Education & Leadership Ministries. He will speak on “A Social Justice Paradigm for Building and Sustaining Authentic Community.”
Organizations participating in the conference will include Higher Education & Leadership Ministries, Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, Interfaith Partners for Justice, Unitarian Universalist Church, All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Equality Virginia, Washington Plaza Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church and National City Christian Church.
“In light of recent events, it seems more important than ever for people to come together to discuss and work together for social justice,” said James Dean, an organizer of the event. “We will not agree on all of the issues, but we can find common ground and we can work together to advance justice, peace and inclusion.”
Advance registration is encouraged, but on-site registration will also be available at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. A concert by UCPraise! will start the event. For more information, contact Dean at 571-830-8730 or [email protected].