While Covid-19 has suspended all in-person group services in the South Bronx, many churches are employing the latest digital technologies to boost morale and ensure the parishioners can remain connected to their faith and community.
While a couple of churches offer carefully scheduled one-on-one sessions, most have gone virtual to offer videotaped services, digital confessions, prayers, shared messages of faith, one-on-one counseling, youth sing-alongs, Sunday School and Bible study.
That old stand-by, the telephone, is also getting a workout. Pastor José of St. Jerome Church in Port Morris says he is receiving record numbers of calls from church members seeking counseling as illnesses and deaths in his parish have skyrocketed in recent weeks.
Here’s a rundown of how local churches are keeping in touch with their flocks in these social distancing times:
While group masses and services are cancelled across the board, some local Christian places of worship have limited availability for single-person visits.
Parroquia Santa Rita de Cascia, a Catholic church located at 448 College Ave in Mott Haven, (718) 585-5900, remains open for personal prayer.
Immaculate Conception, another Catholic church at 389 East 150th Street, Melrose, still offers confession by phone appointment: (718) 292-6970. When you call, Reverend Sean sets you up to meet a priest or minister at the entrance of the church and to speak quietly outside at a distance of more than 6 feet.
Live Video or Phone Meetings
Immaculate Conception’s order, Redemptorist Fathers, hosted a live Lenton retreat for several days prior to April 8: https://www.facebook.com/RedemptoristsBaltimore (recordings are available at https://redemptorists.net/online-mission/)
Church of God of Prophecy, a Pentecostal church located at 85 East 165th Street is broadcasting:
- Good Friday live service with Bishop Earl McKay on April 10 at 11 am, as well as a live youth sing-along through Zoom that same day
- Sunday prayers weekly at 11 am: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjDxQu3ws40lcI7ho23F_YA
- Sunday school call-ins at 10:15-10:45 am
- Wednesday Bible study video conferences every week on Zoom at 7:30 pm: https://zoom.us/j/3342382061
- 19-min COVID-19 “prayer offensive” dial-in Sun-Friday, 7-7:19 pm: (605) 313-5111; access code 241-723
For updated information, call 718-538-6854 or visit https://www.facebook.com/thebronxchurch/.
All Saints Church, located at 750 Concourse Village, near the Bronx courthouse.
Video Recordings and Podcasts
- Its order has Novena videos posted at https://redemptorists.net/novena-videos/
- While the church does not have recordings available of its own masses, it posts “Word of Fire” daily masses from Bishop Barron’s chapel at: https://iccmelrose.com/mass-schedule
- English-language podcasts available at https://redemptorists.net/category/audio/english-podcast/
- Spanish-language podcasts available at https://redemptorists.net/podcasts-in-spanish/
Messages of Faith
Several local churches use FlockNote to send prayers and updates by email and text, including:
- Parroquia Santa Rita de Cascia: https://santarita.flocknote.com/note/6633422
- Immaculate Conception: https://icnyc.flocknote.com/dashboard
St. Jerome also has a WhatsApp group where prayers are texted. You can ask to join by calling (718) 665-5533.
The Bronx Spanish Evangelical Church, located at 800 E 156th St. in Melrose, posts messages regularly on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/iglesiaespanoladelbronx/
*See more coverage on how local churches are combating the recent challenges. We will update this list to reflect other churches’ services as we receive notifications from them.