If it has been noted once, it has been said many times during the COVID-19 pandemic period: We may not be all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm.
For people in the faith-based and recovery communities of Eugene and elsewhere, the storm of the past 16 months has, at various times, rocked the foundations of faith in a higher power. The isolation in the face of an invisible and insidious COVID virus shook people to their core.
Churches were shuttered, taking with them the places where many recovery groups often met. Zoom became the order of the day, and if a church, synagogue or Buddhist temple was able to have hybrid services, masks and strict social distancing became the new order of the day.
We were reminded that the faith-based structures are more than the formal services they host. They are community hubs in their own right. In the pandemic, mid-week activities were shelved, weddings were deferred and memorial services were limited in sanctuaries to family members. Hugs were out, as was congregational singing at most churches.
With restrictions now eased, the faith-based and recovery communities are starting to find their way to shore. The first tentative steps to reuniting are being taken.
The Jesco Club on Blair Boulevard, long a mainstay for recovering alcoholics, is now open on a limited basis. Jesco’s schedule can be found on Facebook. Other Alcoholics Anonymous groups have been meeting in person (with limited seating), and hybrid schedules are available online for AA (EVIaaweb.org).
Refuge Recovery, a nonprofit dedicated to Buddhist principles to aid addiction recovery, will soon announce the possibility of meeting in person, and its information can be found on Facebook. Other recovery groups, for the time being, are continuing with Zoom meetings, and those Zoom meetings could become a permanent fixture.
Places of worship appear to be taking a cautious approach to reopening. Everyone, it seems, is mindful of what has happened to two churches in Oregon — The Lighthouse Pentecostal Church near La Grande and The Peoples Church in Salem — which flouted state-wide protocols and suffered with a flurry of positive COVID cases.
The summer months for local places of worship will serve as building blocks for what pastoral leaders hope will be full-steam ahead activities in the fall. Most have begun the process with limited-seating services.
The intergenerational aspect of faith-based organizations will play a big role in deciding how fast they fully open up, leaders have noted in news letters to their congregations. That’s because children 12- and under are not yet vaccinated, so consult the website of your place of worship for protocol details.