This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to The Newton Kansan online at https://www.thekansan.com/subscribenow.
Newton and Harvey County have close to 100 churches offering services.
With the COVID-19 outbreak, many had to make adjustments ranging from reducing the number to attendees to live streaming their services to outright canceling their services as members and attendees practice “social distancing.”
While religious gatherings and funerals are specifically exempt from Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive orders on public gatherings, many churches are still open and running, but in some cases, with empty pews.
“We just got done with a meeting of most of the Newton pastors, and it looks like most of them are encouraging their members to stay home and worship through the internet,” said Clint McBroom, treasurer of the Newton Ministerial Alliance.
McBroom, pastor of the First Church of God in Newton, said his church will stream its services but will still be open to those who don’t have an internet connection or computer or other social media device at home.
“We’re encouraging those who can to stay home and worship from the internet,” McBroom said. “For those who attend, we’re going to pay attention to spacing and hygiene.”
The Newton Ministerial Alliance represents about 28 churches and other religious organizations in Newton. He said the group has been in contact with non-member churches as well.
He said the group also has been in contact with Harvey County emergency services.
McBroom said he’s been encouraged by the number of church members stepping up and volunteering in multiple capacities.
He said one of the biggest needs, as more people are furloughed or laid off from their jobs, is the food bank supported by the Ministerial Alliance — The Harvest of Love.
He said monetary donations can be made to Harvey of Love, P.O. Box 1084, Newton, KS 67114. Donations are tax deductible and a statement of donation will be sent at the end of the year.
Food donations can be made directly to the Harvey County Salvation Army, 208 W. Sixth St. in Newton.
McBroom said the biggest needs right now are meat products (the pantry has six freezers) as well as canned fruits and vegetables.
He said the other community need is keeping in touch with the elderly and others who may not have a social media presence to prevent isolation during this emergency.
The Catholic Diocese of Wichita, which has three member churches in Harvey County – St. Mary’s in Newton, Our Lady of Guadalupe of Newton and Sacred Heart in Halstead — has suspended all Masses and in-person parish activities until further notice by Bishop Carl A. Kemme.
Some of the other restrictions include:
• Funeral Masses are to be offered for the deceased with only immediate family in attendance and with social distancing. Priests may wish to recommend Christian burial with a memorial Mass to follow at a later date.
• No funeral dinners or luncheons are to be held.
• Baptisms outside of Mass may be celebrated with only the parents, godparents and immediate family of the person being baptized.
• Please consult with the Diocesan Chancery about previously scheduled weddings for the months of March and April.
• Quinceañeras are to be postponed.
• Confessions are to be heard only behind the screen and not face to face.
• All Stations of the Cross, Liturgy of the Hours, Adoration, etc., are to be canceled during this period of time.
• All events, meetings and the like are to be canceled until further notice.
• Confirmations, First Reconciliation, First Communions are to be postponed until after this crisis has ended.
• Unless otherwise determined at a later date, this also applies to Holy Week, the Chrism Mass and Easter Sunday.
A daily Mass is available at 9 a.m. by live stream at Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Facebook page.