It’s a very different Sunday on Army installations in the age of coronavirus.
Where chapels were once filled with the faithful, social distancing precautions have moved many services online. The move to virtual worship came after the Army closed all chapels in the United States and Europe last week.
“UPDATE! EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY:” the Fort Greely, Alaska, Facebook page says. “All Army Chapel Services will adhere to the Commander-In-Chief’s social distancing guidance limiting gatherings to 10 or less people. This Sunday, 22 March 2020, the Traditional Protestant Service will be live streamed at 1000 on this chapel Facebook page. Please stay home and join CH Fritts, CH Crow, and SPC Bryant for the virtual worship service. “
At Fort Detrick in Maryland, sermons will also be shared live, via their Facebook page.
“Good morning! Praying everyone is safe and healthy!” says a message on their Facebook page. “The Chaplains plan to share their sermons with you via Facebook Live/video/transcripts. Join us on Sunday (3/22) at 1100. Our Chaplains will continue to provide sermons via video or transcript until further notice.”
At Fort Rucker, Alabama, services will be posted on their YouTube channel.
“Fort Rucker Chapels will conduct worship services Sunday, March 22, via the Fort Rucker Chaplain’s channel on YouTube,” according to a message on the official Facebook page. “Protestant worship will be viewable beginning at 8 a.m.; Catholic Mass will be viewable beginning at 9 a.m. Visit the chaplaincy’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCehSmam8kzudL_90vuDifCA.”
One group is advocating for all services to move to virtual worship.
Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said that Air Force and Navy leaders should have taken similar steps.
Weinstein said he has had 16 clients, including enlisted service members, chaplains and doctors, reach out with concerns about the lack of top-down leadership during the pandemic.
“If there was ever a time this should be centralized and come from the top, it’s now,” said Weinstein.
As of Friday morning, there are 67 service members battling COVID-19, according to Pentagon data, as well as 15 DoD civilians, 26 dependents and 16 contractors.
That’s about a 31-percent jump for troops — 51 cases were reported yesterday — and more than a 60-percent jump for dependents over Thursday’s totals. The military health system had tested more than 1,500 samples as of Thursday.
For more information about faith services where you are, check with your installation Facebook page.