EUGENE, Ore. -- The pandemic has taken a toll on the livelihood of individuals across the world, and financial hardships that came along were something many would have never expected.
Unity of the Valley in Eugene, a church focusing on personal and spiritual growth, said they are not in any rush to open doors back up to the congregation.
Under Governor Kate Brown’s phase two reopening plan, churches and places of worship can allow up to 250 people to gather, if the building size allows for each attendee to sit six feet apart.
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“We don't want to put anybody in any danger, in any way shape or form,” Rev. Jon West, member of the ministerial team, said.
West said that the transition to online services was a major learning process, but it’s been extremely rewarding.
“In a way, we’re actually reaching a larger audience now because we are being sent out over technology and over social media,” West said.
As building fees and ministers must be paid, the congregation has stepped up to help cover those costs.
“One reason why they’ve continued to support us so much is that sense of family wanting to stay connected in some way," West said. “Oftentimes, that’s even financially.”
Unity of the Valley has also set up a fund to help alleviate stress that congregants may be facing. This could be in the form of rent assistance or providing money toward a utility bill.
“If we are focused on serving our community, then we think our prosperity will take care of itself,” West said.
There’s another type of connection that Unity of the Valley actively seeks to meet, even without a single individual sitting in a church pew: through music.
“There is no greater purpose than what we are doing right now,” the church’s music director Laura Dubois said. “Many people are lonely and just really having a hard time. I get emotional just thinking about it. What a gift it is that music can help lift people up out of that depression.”
Dubois said that there is a great need for music therapy during this time, and people from across the country tune in every week to the online service.
“As social distancing has gradually become a little looser, we have started recording in the sanctuary again,” Dubois said. “We meet once a week and put together usually three songs and they come out every Sunday morning.”
Through the chaos and confusion, church leadership say it’s about staying connected and looking out for one another.
"When we put a live stream online, what we are hoping is for people to realize, we are all in this together," West said.