Pandemic disrupts rites of passage for many devout families

Pandemic disrupts rites of passage for many devout families

Pandemic disrupts rites of passage for many devout families

Pandemic disrupts rites of passage for many devout families

NEW YORK — For many religious families across the United States, the coronavirus has disrupted their most anticipated traditions – the rites of passage that mark their adolescent children’s full entry into their congregations.

With most houses of worship halting large in-person services due to the outbreak, some bar and bat mitzvahs have been conducted via Zoom rather than before a throng of well-wishers at the families’ synagogue. Many confirmation ceremonies at Christian churches have been postponed until fall, at least one was held on Zoom, and an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation near Chicago will hold its confirmation service in the church parking lot.

Sharon Rogers, associate pastor at Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Algonquin, Illinois, said 23 children – mostly 13-year-olds – are expected to be confirmed in the parking lot on June 13. Each family will be allowed to bring three vehicles, parking in every other space.

The children, accompanied by their parents and baptismal sponsors, will emerge one group at a time from their cars to approach the two presiding pastors, who will forgo the traditional act of laying hands on the children.

“The church is not a building, the church is people,” said Rogers, explaining why parents had embraced the idea of an outdoor service.

“For me as a dad, it’s different, but we’re happy about it, rather than cancelling or delaying it,” said Leon Redobos, whose 14-year-old daughter Lindsay will be confirmed.

“This rite of passage — it’s really between my daughter and God,” he said. “We just need a place where we can be surrounded by people who love you and want to support your faith.”

Each confirmand has selected a Bible verse to guide their life. Redobos said Lindsay had chosen Luke 1:37: “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.”

A neighbouring ELCA church — St. Barnabas in Cary, Illinois — held classes for its eight confirmation students over Zoom. A First Communion service will be held via Zoom June 7, but Pastor Sarah Wilson said the full-scale confirmation service is now scheduled for Oct. 31

Wilson found it challenging to lead the online class sessions.

“It was hard for kids to learn how to use Zoom, then they learned how to use it really well,” she said. “I think some of them were gaming during class.”

Two United Methodist congregations in Bismarck, North Dakota, approached confirmation in different ways.

Rev. Jenny Hallenbeck Orr, who serves McCabe United Methodist Church, decided to postpone the ceremony until later in the summer, or in the fall. Legacy UMC held the first part of confirmation in a Zoom call with more than 70 participants . Rev. Brandon Vetter, Legacy’s lead pastor, said a follow-up in-person ceremony was planned for later.

In Encino, California, where Valley Beth Shalom normally celebrates several bar mitzvahs a month, Rabbi Noah Farkas says there have been various responses from families unable to hold ceremonies in the synagogue.

Religion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Alberta’s central zone has 670 active cases

301 new cases identified Sunday

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

Black Press file photo
Wetaskiwin RCMP execute search warrant; illegal drugs seized

Two Wetaskiwin residents have been charged with possession and trafficking of Methamphetamine.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Annual spending on debt interest is closing in on $3 billion

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia

AstraZeneca’s vaccines are ready for use at the vaccination center in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb.28, 2021. (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP)
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

The first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday

People line up outside a vaccine clinic as seniors wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton Alta, on Friday February 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Health Services head sorry for glitches in vaccine booking system for seniors

AHS president said technical issues have been fixed and a virtual waiting room is in place

Vandalism is shown on Alberta NDP MLA Janis Irwin’s constituency office in Edmonton in this handout photo on Saturday, February 27, 2021. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney quickly condemned vandalism at an Opposition legislature member Janis Irwin’s Edmonton office after the MLA posted pictures showing her front window spray-painted with the words “Antifa Liar.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Janis Irwin *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

Edmonton MLA Janis Irwin posted pictures showing the front window spray-painted with the words ‘Antifa Liar’

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Avalanche warning for backcountry users in North and South Rockies

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta’s COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

The court says it will reconvene with lawyers on March 5 for a case management plan by teleconference

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Most Read