Keeping up with the congregation

Bayonne's Grace Lutheran Church offers services and scripture meditations on social media

Pastor Grindeland gives a morning meditation on the road.
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Pastor Grindeland gives a morning meditation on the road.

As the COVID-19 pandemic shut the doors of houses of worship across Hudson County, Grace Lutheran Church is one of many that have reinvented itself to survive.

Pastor Gary Grindeland has turned to social media to keep in touch with his congregation amid COVID-19 closures and social distancing.

Grindenland told the Bayonne Community News that while the pandemic wasn’t in the church’s 2020 vision, it’s made huge modifications without losing focus on the community.

“We exist as a body of faith for the larger community,” Grindeland said.

Facing the daunting task of making up for the loss of in-person services, Grindeland started to wonder how the church was going to live out it’s message.

Social media savior

Already part of the church’s repertoire, social media became even more relevant.

The church already had a Facebook page and website, and Grindeland said social media platforms became “a life saver” for Grace Lutheran.

Every day, Grindeland posts a morning meditation, in which he reads a verse from the Bible and reflects on it.

“The community has really responded to those,” Grindeland said.

It also turned into a fun game of “Where’s Pastor Gary today?” as Grindeland traveled to a new location for each mediation.

Grindeland said he picks various places in Bayonne and Jersey City, usually with meditations relevant to location. Currently, Grindeland is out of town, but keeps up with the daily video meditations.

Cautiously optimistic

Asked when the church might open, he said, “We’ve come this far, so a little bit longer isn’t going to hurt us. What’s ultimately good is worth waiting for.”
Grindenland said he doesn’t want to be part of any potential COVID-19 second wave by rushing to open.

Masks and social distancing will be required going forward, he said.

“We will do everything to reassure people that we haven’t thrown caution into the wind,” Grindeland said, emphasizing the need for a scientific-based reopening.

Grace Lutheran has been taping services. However, Grindeland said the community has responded more to the morning meditations.

Morning meditations

Whether he likes it or not, the congregation enjoys church in smaller bites at the moment.

According to Grindeland, people like two to three minutes of church at a time, as opposed to 40-minute services.

Maybe it just fits better into their schedules right now, Grindeland suggests.

Older church members have become tech savvy as a result of the shift to online services.

“This is a way for them to stay in contact with a larger community,” Grindeland said. “It’s beautiful that we can continue communication.”

Let us know what your house of worship is doing to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.