20-03-20 Church St. Thomas 1 Roland C

Fewer people than usual attended the morning service at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sun Valley on Sunday.

Churches in Blaine County are cancelling public services and/or going to online sermons and meetings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Spiritual leaders are offering inspiration and scriptural references during this period of uncertainty and risk, on websites, Instagram and Facebook.

“Keep praying for our leaders, our community and our world. Check in on somebody today, as we navigate these upcoming weeks together,” the Life Church of Hailey said on its website. It has cancelled Sunday services for at least two weeks, but will continue posting messages on the Book of John by Pastor Mike Hendricks.

The Rev. Lea Colvill of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Hailey offered a reading from the prophet Josiah this week: “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

There will be no Shabbat today for the Wood River Jewish Community, but live streaming by Rabbi Robbi Sherwin of the weekly services will begin Friday, March 27, on the community’s website. Likewise, Church of the Big Wood Pastor Mark Inouye is transitioning to online services this Sunday, with details posted on the church website.

“While our regular ministry activities have been put on hold, we are transitioning to looking for ways to support our church and Valley through (among other things) grocery shopping/delivery and pharmacy pick-up for at risk members of the community,” Inouye wrote.

All activities at Calvary Baptist Church in Hailey are cancelled until further notice, according to its website. Instead, it offers an online sermon by Ron Brown titled “A Godly Response to COVID-19” that includes a reading from the First Epistle of Peter. The passage ends with: “All flesh is like grass, And all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, And the flower falls off, But the word of the Lord endures forever.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has suspended services worldwide.

“These unique challenges will pass in due time,” Church President Russell M. Nelson said in an online statement. “I remain optimistic for the future. I know the great and marvelous blessings that God has in store for those who love Him and serve Him. I see evidence of His hand in this holy work in so many ways.”

The LDS Church states that missionaries serving in the U.S. and Canada may conclude their service three months early.

“Missionaries from regions where government officials are restricting activity will also be trained by video conference,” the website states. “The Church is taking steps to reduce the number of missionaries in areas where coronavirus is of particular concern.”

The Catholic Diocese of Boise canceled services throughout the state until at least Palm Sunday, April 5, with plans to go to online services this weekend at catholicidaho.org.

“I am extending a dispensation to all the faithful of the diocese from the Sunday obligation to participate in the Mass. I may be required to extend this suspension further should circumstances warrant,” wrote Most Rev. Peter F. Christensen, Bishop of Boise.

Rob Gieselmann, interim priest at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sun Valley, posted a message on March 17, stating that St. Thomas will not host Sunday or other services until at least April 6, at the guidance of the bishop. St. Thomas will offer remote live-streamed morning prayers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays while the church building is closed.

“It might seem like a stretch,” Gieselmann wrote. “But I want to encourage each of you to treat this time away from church, work and social gatherings opportunistically, as a gift from God. God is with us and continues to be with us, and extra time provides your opportunity to catch-up on reading, housework or projects, playing games with your kids, and so on. Sabbath time from God is down-time, intentionally designed for personal reflection and restoration.”

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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