To help stop the spread of COVID-19, churches throughout Downtown have replaced in-person services with online livestreaming. By offering new social and digital platforms for worship, churches are creating a strong sense of community that enables others to continue practicing their faith and stay connected despite social distancing.
“Our priority is to stay connected and spread a message of hope to our members and the DTLA community in these anxious times,” said Dan Hilley, an elder at Union Church of LA.
“We quickly set up a YouTube channel and reoriented our website and Facebook page. Our members are of all ages, so we are also trying to make it easy for our less tech-savvy members. While we hope to meet in person again once it is safe to do so, we hope to continue some of these new forms to reach more people.”
Church of the Resurrection has been streaming its weekly live worship service on Sundays with Scripture readings, prayers, singing and a sermon via Facebook and on its website. Following the service, members of the prayer team are available for additional prayer via Zoom, a video and audio conference platform. Table Groups are also held, where people gather online weekly to pray for one another, read Scripture and hang out.
“Our in person gatherings are on pause for the sake of our city, particularly our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Teesha Hadra, executive pastor of Church of the Resurrection. “However, in our view, the church is not and has never been a building. The church is a people. We continue to be the people of God, offering up our world to God in prayer and serving our neighbors in tangible ways.”
To continue the sense of gathering, members of New City Church of Los Angeles meet online to worship via Zoom and Facebook Live. Those that don’t have internet access can join worship via phone.
“We get to interact with and see one another during worship,” shared Kevin Haah, lead pastor of New City Church of Los Angeles.
“We break out into smaller groups on Zoom to share during the worship service. I preach from my home, someone else leads music from another home, while someone else shares a testimony from his or her home. We share communion by asking the congregants to prepare their own cup and bread. I have been amazed at how technology has helped us connect during this time.”
In addition to livestreaming Sunday worship, NewStory Church is offering informal Praise and Worship every Wednesday via Facebook Live with one of its praise leaders, providing an opportunity for people to listen or sing along and lift their spirits. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays it hosts “Lunch with a Pastor” on Facebook Live, a short Pastoral devotional.
“We are adjusting just like any other church,” said David Kim, operations pastor at NewStory Church. “I think what’s important for us during this season is to be a ‘high-tech and high-touch’ church. Everybody is feeling the struggles of isolation and there is no doubt that cabin fever is kicking in. Therefore, it’s important for us to create online gatherings and engagement throughout the week that help our people connect. The church building is closed, but the church is open.”
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles closed its churches to the public until further notice on March 24.
“Our community of faith is fully committed to doing all we can to limit the spread of this global public health threat,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez.
“We are taking these extraordinary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of the faithful and the public, as well as all who continue to serve in our parishes and ministries. While our church buildings are temporarily closing during this crisis, our local church is very much alive and continues to serve and share the Word of God. I encourage all Catholics to continue to pray and join in communion for the celebration of Holy Mass remotely via the internet, television or radio.”
Gomez also asked all parishes that can ring their bells to do so at noon and 6 p.m. daily as a sign of solidarity and hope.
“Now more than ever, we must continue to anchor our hearts and minds in the abiding truth of God’s love for us, His sons and daughters. We remain strong in faith knowing that God will be with us always,” Gomez said.
He said church offices are to be closed to the public. Pastors may allow a minimal number of parish staff members (less than 10) to continue working in the office provided that social distancing is observed.
Parishes are invited to inform their parishioners of opportunities to view Mass or other services via livestream. The weekday and Sunday Masses will be livestreamed from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels via the LA Catholics Facebook page, facebook.com/lacatholics. For more information on additional Mass broadcasts on TV and radio, visit lacatholics.org/mass-for-the-homebound.
Below is a rundown of local churches in and around Downtown and the online services they are offering.
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels:
Weekday Masses are livestreamed daily at 12:10 p.m. online. Sunday Masses are livestreamed on Sundays at 10 a.m. in English and at 12:30 p.m. in Spanish online.
Centenary United Methodist Church: Online Sunday worship is offered in Japanese at 9:30 a.m. and in English at 10:45 a.m.
Church of the Resurrection: On Sundays at 10 a.m., worship services are livestreamed via Facebook and its website. Online prayer gatherings take place daily from Monday through Saturday at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Citizens Church LA: Worship services will be broadcast via Facebook Live on Sundays at 10:30 a.m.
City Light Church: Worship services will be broadcast live on Sundays at 11 a.m.
Episcopal Cathedral of St. John: Livestreams via Facebook a Sunday morning prayer at 11 a.m. and Sunday night candle lit prayer at 8 p.m.
First African Methodist Episcopal Church: Sunday broadcasts are livestreamed on the website at 7:45 a.m., 9:55 a.m. and noon. Information regarding online prayer circle and Bible study broadcasts is also available online.
Hillsong Church LA: Morning Devotional is offered on Instagram Live every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9 a.m. Weekend services will be streamed via YouTube on Saturdays and Sundays at various times. Check the website for more details.
New City Church of Los Angeles: Online worship is offered on Sundays at 10 a.m. via Facebook Live and Zoom.
NewStory Church: Sunday services are offered online at 11 a.m. “Lunch with a Pastor” is broadcast on Facebook Live on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at noon. Praise and Worship time is held on Facebook Live on Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
Oasis Church: Sunday services are livestreamed at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Tapestry LA: Sunday services are livestreamed at 10 a.m.
Union Church of Los Angeles: Pre-recorded weekly sermons in English and Japanese are available via the website. Daily Lenten devotionals sharing Scripture, reflections and words of encouragement will be posted online during the time leading up to Easter.