Creative worship in the age of corona
Pastor Harold Bare was met with an unusual scene when he stood in front of his congregation on Easter Sunday—a barrage of car horns during a Facebook-streamed drive-in service, which welcomed congregants to decorate their vehicles and watch Bare’s sermon from a parking lot.
Like every other institution in town, religious organizations have had to get creative as the novel coronavirus has radically reshaped our world. On Good Friday, Bare’s Covenant Church convened its choir over Zoom, with singers crooning into laptop microphones in rough, tinny unison.
“Fear not, God is in control,” read a sticker on the side of one car at Covenant’s Easter service. Additional stickers thanked more earthly leaders, like nurses and doctors.
Other religious groups have had to adjust in similar ways. Zoe Ziff, a UVA student, organized a Zoom Passover Seder for her friends who have been scattered across the world by the university’s closure.
“We spoke over each other and lagged, but it was beautiful to see my friends, hear their voices, and share the story of Passover together,” Ziff says. “It’s a reminder that everywhere in the world, Jewish people are retelling this story—though this year, over a webcam.”
“We’re being as careful as we know how to be,” Bare said at the beginning of his holiday sermon. Religious traditions might stretch back thousands of years, but these days, they’re Zooming along just like the rest of us.
The Virginia legislature turned in a historic session earlier this year, and as the deadline approached this week, Governor Northam put his signature on dozens of new bills. The new laws will tighten gun safety regulations, decriminalize marijuana, allow easier access to abortion, make election day a national holiday, repeal voter ID laws, allow racist monuments to be removed, and more. Northam didn’t sign everything, though—he used his power to delay the legislature’s proposed minimum wage increase by one year, citing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local COVID-19 case update
53 confirmed cases in Albemarle
34 confirmed cases in Charlottesville
Data as of 4/13/20, courtesy of Thomas Jefferson Health District
Quote of the Week
“In Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy… in Charlottesville, the home of Thomas Jefferson… We led the charge to change the state. It’s all been worth it.”
—Former vice mayor Wes Bellamy, on the new law allowing localities to remove Confederate monuments
Governor Ralph Northam has finally made it official: Charlottesville will soon be able to legally take down its Confederate monuments. The bill, which Northam signed on April 11, will go into effect July 1. The end is in sight, but the city will have to wait 60 days and hold one public hearing before the statues can be removed.
Last week, state Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William) filed paperwork to run for Virginia governor in 2021. Foy is a 38-year-old former public defender who sponsored the legislation that led to Virginia’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. If elected, she would become the first black female governor in United States history. Her likely Democratic primary opponents include Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, an accused sex offender, and Attorney General Mark Herring, who has admitted to appearing in blackface.
(No) walk in the park
To the disappointment of Old Rag enthusiasts, the National Park Service completely shut down Shenandoah National Park April 8, per recommendation from the Virginia Department of Health. All trails—including our stretch of the famed Appalachian Trail—are now closed. Still want to explore the park? Visit its website for photo galleries, videos, webcams, and interactive features, or follow it on social media.
Under the name Frontline Foods Charlottesville, local organizations are working with chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen to deliver food to health care workers, with meals supplied by area restaurants like Pearl Island Catering, Champion Hospitality Group, and Mochiko Cville. In the coming weeks, FFC plans to add more restaurants, which will be reimbursed for 100 percent of the cost of food and labor, and expand to serve other area community members.
As reports of intimate partner violence increase due to coronavirus lockdowns, UVA Survivors, a student advocacy and support group, has created a petition calling for the “immediate, structural, and transformative change” of the university’s sexual violence prevention and support services. The petition demands UVA fund an external review of the Title IX office; provide survivor-created and informed education on sexual violence and consent; create a stand-alone medical unit for sexual, domestic, and interpersonal violence survivors; and move the Title IX office from O’Neill Hall (located in the middle of UVA’s ‘Frat Row’), among other demands. It has been signed by more than 100 students and student organizations.