Five Ways to Gather When We Can’t Gather

For people of faith communities, our first instinct in a time of crisis is to gather together. But what if the crisis makes gathering counter-indicated or even dangerous?

Here are five ways to gather with your faith (or friend) community that won’t put you or others at risk.

Set a Prayer Time

Set a specific time every day for prayer. Commit to praying at that time so that you know you are gathered together in prayer–if not in person. You can also circulate a list of joys and concerns via email for folks to pray on.

Read the Same Devotional Each Day

Commit to reading from the same devotional source daily. There are many available online to choose from. I really like D360 (available online, in app form and through email) as well as Still Speaking daily devotional (available as an email).

Take a Walk Together (in small groups)

I consulted my fav infectious disease specialist who told me that it is good for people to get outside. As long as you keep the group small (like five or less), with people who are feeling well and showing no symptoms, and greet one another with a bow and a namaste instead of a handshake or hug, a walk together can be good for you on many levels.

Read a Book Together

Pick a book that everyone in your community will read over the course of the next week, two weeks or month. I don’t recommend anything about pandemics. Here are some of my favorite books that are calming, inspiring and (often) humorous:

  • My Grandfather’s Blessing: Stories of Strength by Rachel Naomi Remen
  • How to Love by Thich Nat Hanh
  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  • Pond, River, Ocean, Rain: Finding Peace in the Storms of Life by Charles Lattimore Howard
  • Bless this Mess: A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World by Molly Phinney Baskette and Ellen O’Donnell

Take an online class together

Doubting Believer has several online classes up–both free and paid courses. Check them out here. If you’re interested in any of the paid courses, gather at least four other friends together and email me at and I’ll send you a group discount code to use.

Cokesbury’s Connected Faith app is a new resource that allows you to participate in online Bible studies as an individual or as groups.

Community is a crucial part of a healthy and happy life, and there are ways to maintain our connection even in times we cannot gather in person. What are some ways you are staying connected to your people during this time? Share in the comments below.

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay faithful. Stay connected.

Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.

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