Congregations across Philadelphia adjust to social distancing services

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The month of April brings Easter, Ramadan and Passover. Each are times for the faithful to reflect and gather.

Because of the risk of spreading COVID-19, these celebrations and times of reflection will look different as congregations are asked to abide by social distancing rules.

"Passover for the Jews, we have Easter for the Christians and Ramadan for the Muslims. These are all times for us to go back to God to pray for our people, our families, those that are impacted by this," says Imam Idris Abdul-Zahir.

His congregation at Masjidullah, in Philadelphia's West Oak Lane section, is asked to continue daily prayer at home. And to follow Facebook live streams of Friday evening services.

Throughout Ramadan, families are asked to pray together at home.

During the stay-at-home order, many of the faithful still rely on Masjidullah to provide food. Now, lines have been taped to the floor urging people to stand 6 feet apart as they wait to be called to receive donation.

For Cantor Scott Borsky, the social distancing changes mean he'll observe Passover without the crowd at his home.

"One of the four questions is, 'Why is this night different than all other nights?' Certainly this year is different from all other years. So, my Passover seder will be a virtual Passover seder with people from all over," said Borsky.

As Christians approach the start of Holy Week ahead of Easter, Pastor Bob Strauss is asking the flock at Jarrettown United Methodist Church in Dresher to try something different: a parking lot service.

Even the cars are parked at a 6-foot distance. The congregation keeps their car windows closed and can listen to the word pumping through the large loudspeakers.

"We have some 'Beep your horn for Jesus' moments and it's been a real blessing," said Strauss. "We has about 70 parishioners come last week."

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said the best thing to do to help our collective community is not to gather, but to stay at home.
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