If you drive through Iroquois on a Sunday morning, you might see cars in a parking lot on the edge of town, but an empty parking lot in the middle of town. The two churches in Iroquois have different avenues of finding their way back to the pews.
Prairie Haven Mennonite Church, pastored by Phil Penner, has been meeting in-person for about a month now. Penner stated they decided as a brotherhood how and when to start meeting again after being in contact with local authorities.
“For a while, we separated the pews and had family units sit together, but now we are back to normal with a few modifications. There’s a lot less hand-shaking and people maintain their distance,” he said. The way they serve meals for church events looks different too.
During the time they were closed, they had small groups come in to provide the music and his message was delivered over a conference call. They have provided this service even before the pandemic and have people from all over North America call to listen in.
“We have some elderly still staying home and using that service. We need to be careful and respectful as we go forward,” replied Penner.
“I have felt a bit hindered as far as face-to-face contact during this time, but I use the telephone to reach people.”
Faith Mennonite Church, north of Iroquois, started meeting in-person a bit earlier, but follow similar guidelines. Lonnie Penner and Craig Jantz are the pastors at that parish.
The Iroquois Methodist Church parking lot has sat empty since March 15. The first few months, services were provided live on the church’s Facebook page (Iroquois Trinity United Methodist Church). There are more options available now, as the Covid19 spread is still present.
“As we move forward, I hope to make things as accessible as possible,” said Tia Felberg, new pastor for both Iroquois & De Smet Methodist churches.
Online worship is offered each Sunday morning on the Facebook page and a new Children’s message via Facebook each Wednesday evening. That includes a short message geared for kids, a game and music. The Wednesday Word via conference call is another way to connect with church members. It is a 30-minute conversation summarizing the Sunday message and then talking about it.
Email, postal mail and a new text messaging service are other ways the church is using to connect with its members and others. The church plans to resume in-person worship in August, following social distancing guidelines.
“There’s not just one way to worship,” stated Felberg. “It’s going to look different for everyone.”