With social distancing and being in worship as a community taking a new twist during the Covid-19 quarantine, Epworth Villa residents and Chaplains have become creative.
The altar at Brill Chapel has for over 15 years been traditional with a cross, bible, 2 candles, and paraments reflecting the season of the Christian Year; that is until social distancing became cause to think outside the box.
With no more than ten allowed to gather and six feet of spacing between seating, the chapel became a 24/7 place of personal worship, meditation, and prayer. Residents and staff have been witnessed in the chapel as early as 5:30 a.m. and as late as 11:30 p.m. Marsha Purtell, Epworth Chaplain, and Wilma Reppert, resident and Chair of Religious Life of the Resident Association, worked as a team using scriptures from the lectionary to plan, design, and implement weekly re-design of the altar area to give visual appeal to the selected scripture posted on a separate table located at the Chapel entry. Music plays in the background to give a peaceful and meaningful experience to individuals who want to spend time in the chapel. The chapel is regularly cleaned and sanitized.
Virtual Vespers and Sunday School services are broadcast weekly throughout the campus to all levels of care on Epworth Villa’s closed-circuit TV (EVTV). Residents can tune in and participate from the comfort of their living rooms. Guest speakers and teachers have done an excellent job sharing from an empty room knowing the nearly 400 residents can tune in to be spiritually fed.
Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, became especially meaningful as each resident was provided with individually bagged cup and host for communion. Because the residents could participate in their homes with the clergy on the EVTV screen, it is estimated 80 to 85% of the residents participated.
Though the altar reflecting the scriptures began with Lent and was changed several times during Holy Week, having the altar reflect the weekly scriptures has become our “new normal.” Residents are contributing to the décor with flowers, special crosses, worship cloths, scarves, little lambs etc. It has become fun and inspiring to see the weekly changes in the worship center and the setting has become a blessing for all who choose to participate.