NORTH COUNTY — In a day and age when people complain that “screen time” is keeping people apart, those same devices are being used to keep people connected to their local communities of faith. A week after San Luis Obispo County issued the shelter-at-home order to curb the spread of COVID-19, local churches all over North County are using the digital world to unite fellow believers. 

Paso Robles Community Church Lead Pastor Shawn Penn said that he instituted a CARE-chain that assigns members responsibility to check on their fellow churchgoers two to three times per week.

“We just made that available a couple of weeks ago, and it caught on,” Penn said. 

Penn said that if a member comes across a need in their outreach, they are instructed to inform the church who will work to provide assistance.

“They call the church, we collect that and then we have another team that’s just our response team now, that are younger people that will go do the shopping and take it to their house and leave it there for them,” Penn said.

Almost all local churches are providing online streaming or access to recorded sermons online. The Atascadero Refuge Church has been offering online viewing of Pastor Steve Shively’s sermons for years, and the Life Community Church offers online streaming of its sermons every Sunday morning. LLC also provides free Sunday school videos and ways for teenagers to stay connected as well for those who sign up.

The Atascadero Bible church is instituting several venues to keep people connected.

“What we’re doing is working towards an interactive community-centered service in terms of our worship services for live streaming our regularly scheduled services at 8, 9:15 and 11 a.m.,” ABC Executive Pastor Jeff Urke said. “We’re using a platform called online.church that we’re hoping to get people to engage during the service with some online chat windows and things.”

ABC also created a COVID-19 page for people to request assistance through the church and are implementing a program where church members reach out to their neighbors through “Love Your Neighbor” postcards to ask them how they can be of assistance. The church is offering Zoom video conferencing session where up to 100 people can join in on a chat. Urke said that the church is also working on a daily online chat to help people keep in contact and share personal or communal needs.

“What we’re trying to do,” said Urke, “is to keep a sense of togetherness in the community, because everyone is in their homes and they can’t really congregate, so we’re trying to provide online ways to interact with others. And rather than watching online content, we really want people interacting online so you can feel a real sense of community through that online presence.” 

Below is a list of a few churches in the region offering streaming and other services online:

Getting through this together, Paso Robles