Sherman church members find ways to stay connected
Even though the COVID-19 lockdown has kept members of Sherman Congregational Church from physically worshipping together, the congregation has found many ways to keep in touch.
Members who spend the winter in warmer climates have sent short videos of themselves and their surroundings to the church website for everyone to view.
There is a walking tour of the desert home of Mark and Sue Horton, formerly of Danbury, in Green Valley, Ariz.; the ocean at Cape Cod, where Irene Sherlock is hunkering down; and a quiet marsh in Savannah, Ga., where Trudy Smith of Sherman spends her winters.
Brian Barnier of New Fairfield lives locally but he made a short video for those who haven’t seen him in a while so they can enjoy the beauty of Candlewood Lake.
A health team was formed in March to keep in touch with members who were isolated, in frail health or just experiencing life so different from what we have all been used to living.
Health team members call or email people each week to check in, ask if they need food or medications, and offer to pray with and for them.
“The deacons recognized early on that the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic reached much further than just how we would replicate our weekly services,” Deacon Chair Amy Smith of Sherman said.
“The health team structure set our church up for success because it allowed volunteers to help address the immediate needs while the deacons could tailor the content of our church services in a way that best meets the current needs of our church body,” she said.
“We are relying on God's plan and staying focused on His Word to support us through this crisis,” she said.
To that end, Bible studies Tuesday evenings and Wednesday mornings via Google Meet or teleconference allow members to see each other and continue to participate in study.
A prayer team meets virtually each Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. to pray for the church, the community and state and national leaders. There is also a Prayer tab on the website for anyone to submit prayers for specific people.
And while some churches are livestreaming their services, Sherman Church members are contributing a video of some part of the service each week as if they were in the 6 Church Road building.
Charlie Mastroni of Kent leads the Prayers of the People from his home, urging everyone to pray for COVID-19 victims in general and friends and loved ones in particular.
Jen Bundy of New Fairfield presents a children’s story, last week telling kids about the bee hives she and her husband, Todd, keep in their backyard.
She explained the importance of every member of the hive and then drew parallels with church members and the wider community, complete with graphics showing nurse bees, worker bees and the queen.
“It is still a work in progress,” Smith said. “And we are finding out what works best and not as well in this format. Using a videotaped format has allowed us to include all of the friendly faces that people know and love in our church each week, something that would have been much more limited if we had attempted a livestream model.”
Ken Leach recently read the benediction at the end of the service with a simple view of the Knollcrest windmill and an apple tree in full bloom.
Cindy Moschitta of Sherman, a nurse at New Milford Hospital, has sung a hymn with a springtime backyard in the picture.
Carolyn Kopsick of New Fairfield, minister of music, now plays the piano and organ to an empty sanctuary, but when the hymns are sung, there is a full choir from past services which were recorded on CD.
There are flowers on the altar, a greeter at the door, and the viewer is ushered to a seat in the front row at the start of every service.
It’s not what the members would prefer, but it’s a blessing to those far away who can tune in each Sunday morning at 10 (or whenever they have time to watch) to worship with familiar faces and words of comfort in a time of trouble, according to Smith.
For more information, visit www.shermanchurch.org.