By Stephen, The Associated Press
CANTON, SD (AP) – Christmas at Stagnation at Canton Lutheran Church will remain silent this year, breaking the community tradition of gathering for a live Christmas performance. Instead, churches in this rural corner of South dakota How to approach an Advent filled with quiet mourning after the coronovirus through the region.
Church announcements are marked not with parties and demonstrations, but with deaths. South dakota and North dakotaStates that survived the worst of the epidemic during spring and summer have seen a horrific pace of death since October. The per capita death rate of the states almost doubled which was also the next worst state.
Even as congregation mourns, they are finding new significance in the Advent, when Christians mark long, dark nights toward Christmas, as they prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
“Advent is the season when we look ahead, and look forward to that long and that new life,” said Rev. Tim Tim. “We are hurting people for hope.”
At the church’s annual theatrical performance, crowds of thousands of people reach Canton at times, a town of about 3,500 people has built a nest to split the Big Sioux River from South Dakota Iowa. People come to see camels, angels who climb on a hydraulic lift – and of course, the infant Jesus, played by one of the church’s newest arrivals.
The church canceled the live show, fearing that a large crowd would add to the toll of the virus.
“There’s just a void there and you can’t fill it,” said Theis.
Community grief has been averted, even increasing the impact of virus deaths, said Cheryl Johnson, a member of Canton Lutheran. Memorial services were postponed for some; Others had small cemeteries.
“These were community pillars,” Johnson said. “There should have been hundreds of people in those services.”
A man who died, he operated a construction company, in which many lived, many of whom lived in houses; The other operated a manufacturing business which was a large employer. Many of the older generation were faithful devotees of the churches running the charity in the city.
The Cant Lutheran congregation has lost 12 members over the past few months to COVID-19 and other causes.
Many neighboring cities pride that the virus is a cruelty on neighboring harmony. The debate of isolation over politics and mask requirements, the uncomfortable uneasiness of isolation, the pain of losing loved ones and the pressure on medical staff have all bogged down.
Churches became in need even they woke up through division.
The 126-year-old Mandi Valley Valley Lutheran Church of mostly farming families, located a few miles south of Canton, ceased services in the early days of the epidemic. But Rev. Lance Lindgren – who later died of the virus – acknowledged that the church continued to provide some form of worship, so hymns from the church organ were broadcast on Facebook.
The church did everything to meet spiritual needs while still attempting to keep people safe. It purchased an FM transmitter so that worshipers could hear from their cars, and Lindgren conducted a drive-through communication. As the season grew, congregation president Eric Scott measured the church’s fellowship hall by 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart.
“At the time, people were really looking for something, and going back to their faith,” Scott said.
Canton was then killed by a wave of cases. The 77-year-old pastor died on 3 November.
“With Pastor Lance dead, the first question was: what do we do now?” Scott said.
Grand Valley was not the only area where the church avoided harm. The pages of local newspapers, The Sioux Valley News, are full of gluttony. The nursing home began marking deaths with small, white crosses on its front lawn.
Churches asked members to gather outside the nursing home, placing their hands on its brick walls to pray for residents and staff.
“It was a powerful moment where we were coming together in faith,” said Clay Lundberg, pastor of United Methodist Church in Canton.
Nevertheless, the clergy struggled to comfort their congregation.
“We are asked to be the hands and feet of Christ, but how do you do that when you cannot touch anyone?” How will you do when you can’t give them a hug? “Said Pastor Thes of Cant Lutheran.
He and other pastors said they were going back to the core of being back in their congregation: making phone calls, writing letters and trying to make their presence felt.
“We don’t want people to slip through the cracks and get lost in these terrible epidemic days.”
Church members who usually organized live theatrical performances felt that the congregation needed a message of hope, so they recruited the shop class from high school, so that people would be empty.
“This is a warning to the people – that this is the true meaning of Christmas,” said 76-year-old church member Dorothy Trum.
In Grand Valley, the congregation decided to abandon some of their midweek Advent services, but realized that continuing Sunday services and indulging in the grief that Lindgren wanted.
“I see this epidemic as an opportunity,” Scott said. “We’re waiting, and it’s waiting for something good to happen.”
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