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Church leaders, students adapt despite Coronavirus

Church+leaders%2C+students+adapt+despite+Coronavirus

Youth groups around Fresno recognize importance of connection despite social distancing

Throughout the Fresno community, student worship bodies found new and creative ways to come together during COVID-19.

[/media-credit] Students participate in in-person worship.

About a year ago, most churches and religious institutions, as well as concert venues, schools, and sporting events, shut down due to Covid-19, but that did not stop church-goers from worshipping.

Chelsea Norton, a nurse at Valley Children’s Hospital, and lifegroup leader at The Well Community Church, gave her insight on how Covid has affected her life.

“I have missed ‘big church’ worship where we all raise our voices and praise our God almighty together as one body, it is powerful,” Norton said. “I have learned how to rely on the Lord for my source of strength more so now than ever before.”

Norton modeled in a Christian parenting magazine by the time she was 10 years old.

“I have really had to learn to take whatever time I can get with my students and enjoy it,” Norton said. “We established life group expectations, just like we would if we were meeting in person to make everyone feel comfortable. It is OK to not be OK; it is not OK to stay there, so I would encourage students to speak up when they need help. I know it is so hard and scary, but that is why life group leaders are here.”

Churches and other places of worship have been doing life groups through zoom sessions, watching pastors preach virtually, and communicating through technology.

[/media-credit] Teens gather around a campfire to roast marshmallows and share personal thoughts.

Grace Kane, a college student at California State University, Fresno, also a life group leader at the Well Community Church, explains the troubles she has gone through and had to overcome.

Church is different in many ways,” Kane said. “Some students are really cautious and others are not, so we have had to adjust to make both types of students feel comfortable. Although Covid has been difficult for me, I learned God can be glorified no matter what — nothing can interrupt or stop his plans for the work he is doing in life.”

When Kane was young, she was a competitive rock climber and stopped when she was 12.

“Our time over the summer, when we met outside at homes during life group,” Kane said, “grew us so much closer together than meeting in a large group, which was really exciting. It can be easy to get off of Zoom and immediately pick up your phone or go onto Netflix, but God can speak to us best in silence when we are not looking at a screen.”

Churches and life group leaders are trying to make sure that every kid gets an opportunity to talk and be honest about the stresses they are facing at school and home.

[/media-credit] The Well Community Church pastors baptize students at a Sunday service.

Katie Mcgary, a student at Buchanan High School, gives her input on the pandemic.

“It has been pretty difficult,” Mcgary said. “I felt distant from God. For awhile, I hadn’t been going to Sunday services because of Covid and when they started back up again, it was hard to get back in the groove.”

Mcgary has a dog named “Gingy” and it is named after the gingerbread man in Shrek.

“I started going back to life group in August,” Mcgary said, “and had been going ever since. My relationship with God is stronger than ever. I finally went back to Sunday services about a month ago and I love it.”

Many local church-goers go off to different cities to attend new churches.

Micah Foster, a lead pastor at Two Cities Church, talked about how him and his colleagues have worked around helping their community through this difficult time.

We have requests from people that are older or they have compromised immune systems,” Foster said, “and they are asking for us to drop off groceries or something else. We are doing our best to fulfill those needs and we are also pointing them to services that are already in place. If they need it multiple times, we teach them how to use Instacart and other online grocery shopping services that they would not normally use.”

As the pandemic continues, church leaders will continue to come up with unique ways to enlighten believers to keep their faith through this unusual time in life. 

[/media-credit] Besides worship and study, youth group gives students a place to have fun with peers.

If students need help, they are encouraged to ask a professional for help or join a life group. 

Jordan Hogue, the high school pastor at the Well Community Church, motivates teens in a dark place to go to The Well’s Counseling Center or find other sources of serious help. Hogue is a 2006 graduate of Fresno Christian schools.

“We live in a fragmented world,” Hogue said, “To be in a lifegroup is to be given the opportunity to be loved and cared for. We need connection with others as Christians, scripture says we can’t live without each other. Lifegroup is a place where you can have all of that. Genuine and real connections with other people, support for your faith when you feel discouraged, confession of sin when you mess up, and so much more.”

Two Cities Church is located at 808 4th St, Clovis, CA 93612, and holds service on Sundays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm.

The Well Community Church has three different campuses, The North Campus, Fig Campus and the newest Clovis campus, located at 2044 E Nees Ave, Fresno, 4545 N Palm Ave, Fresno, and 1235 N Minnewawa Ave, Clovis, respectively.

For more articles, read Mayor Jerry Dyer shares vision for Fresno and Boys tennis celebrates senior night.

Aribella Dimmer can be reached via email.

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    Zachary VanderlindenMay 14, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    Great Job!!!!!! Love this article and church.

    Reply