On Wednesday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee released guidelines for how churches can convene their congregations in person while maintaining physical distancing. Many have turned to video as their main tool for sharing worship services.
Same strategy for Spokane Faith and Values, a news service that focuses on religion in the community. It’s taking advantage of federal coronavirus relief money to keep itself going.
One thing that hasn’t changed for Spokane FAVS. Every morning, editor Tracy Simmons sends her newsletter to subscribers who are eager to hear stories and opinions from a variety of faith perspectives.
“Some have to do with coronavirus and some don’t. And, of course, commentary. People are wanting us to mix it up a little bit," she said.
Now, she’s doing a podcast.
“And that’s just about how faith communities are handling the pandemic and how they’re staying engaged with their communities. We’ve put out about six episodes of that and that’s being received really well," Simmons said.
Spokane FAVS is also in the events business. It owns a building on the South Hill that it rents out to faith communities and uses for its own public events. The proceeds pay for the news service.
“The Faith Center opened not quite one year ago and we were really hitting our stride. We were starting to get people renting the building and worshipping in the building and then everything had to come to a screeching halt," she said.
With the temporary closure of the building, Simmons turned to the federal CARES Act to see if she could get some help.
“We applied for this grant because, like so many non-profits right now, the pandemic has really hurt us," she said.
She learned recently that Spokane FAVS has been awarded a $2,500 grant, through Humanities Washington, to keep the organization operating awhile longer.
Now Simmons is looking ahead to the day when she’ll welcome visitors again.
“We went in the building and we’re trying to figure out how many people can we fit six feet apart. We’ve never had to do that math before," she said.
For now, though, she’s sticking to online events. She has scheduled a Coffee Talk on Zoom for June 6 to look at the value of human connection during the pandemic. It’s free and open to the public.