Sunday was not church as usual for many congregations in Billings. Yellowstone County’ Health Officer closed their doors to gatherings of more than 10 of their member until at least April 10. The churches are increasingly turning to social media to stay connected with their congregations.
Bishop Michael Warfel of the Great Falls Billings Diocese celebrated mass via social media from the chapel in his residence in Great Falls last Sunday. He suspended all public Mass at least until the end of the month.
Some congregations like Faith Evangelical Church in Billings regularly offer online services although the format has changed under the closure.
First Presbyterian Church in Billings just started offering worship services online through the church’s Facebook page.
And Sunday, Pastor Dave Thompson held an adult Sunday School class.
All of this is happening during Lent, an important time in the Christian calendar leading up to Easter Sunday on April 12.
As of Monday, Yellowstone County’s closure order ends on April 10 which would cancel most of the events of Holy Week. But the closure may be extended and that will impact Easter and local pastors are starting to plan on how to celebrate Easter if that happens.
Some, like Pastor Mike Nickerson with First United Methodist Church, will wait until the closures are ended.
"We will celebrate Easter the first time we are back in our building which will be a time of celebration in any case and Easter will just make it better and Easter is about new life," Nickerson said.