Nebraska churches continue virtual services despite pandemic progress

NORFOLK, Neb. - People are looking forward to getting back to normal, but for churches, the new normal may stick around well after the pandemic is over.

"It was really weird because I'm used to standing in front of people and having a room full of people," said Pastor Lee Weander of Our Savior Lutheran Church.

Pastor Weander described just how strange it felt to put on a virtual service, something that dozens of churches in the state are doing. 

Even Father Joe Miksch admits it was an adjustment.

"At first I was very conscientious, hoping the bishop wasn't watching," said Father Miksch of St. Isidore Catholic Church. "It was very hard because I get a lot of feedback from people."

However, Father Miksch says the virtual option was a blessing. 

"It's just incredible how through modern media we can reach out to people," Father Miksch said.

Congregations are also thankful for the ability to attend church safely.

"Sons and daughters feel comfortable knowing that their moms and dads are being able to participate in something that means so much to them; church on Sunday mornings," said Pastor Weander. 

Although the hymns and message are easy to transfer to an online platform, northeast Nebraska pastors say the real challenge is to transfer the same energy and atmosphere they feel in person.

"'How do we connect with people? How do we let people know, we're not just a show that they watch on Sunday morning,?'" said Pastor Weander.

Despite congregations starting to come back, pastors say the online services will continue.

"I think we realize we have a whole new avenue of communicating with people," said Father Miksch. "I think that will be for the better."