Religious communities in SoCal stay connected amid coronavirus pandemic

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Despite restrictions limiting gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic, religious leaders in Southern California are still finding ways of maintaining a sense community.

Pastor Drew Sams of Bel Air Presbyterian is like many religious leaders trying to connect in a physically distant world.

"We're just trying to innovate and get as creative as possible in this season," he said.

Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson is also trying to remain connected with others amid the restrictions.

"We're also attempting to make phone calls especially to people who are ill and old so that they feel a personal connection, a personal relationship with us," Torgerson said.

RELATED: Here's a list of SoCal churches holding virtual Holy Week services

Holy Week for Christians will end with Easter Sunday, but Wednesday night is the start of Passover and traditionally involves a Seder.

Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback says this year, what's more important than large families sharing a meal is to remember what Passover stands for.

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"It's a story of hope and it reminds me that we've been in dark places before, we'll get through this dark place again," he said.

Ramadan starts April 23, and it involves community service, fasting and prayer and closing mosques has been a major disruption, but not an insurmountable obstacle for Muslims.

"The community, congregational connection is a stronger connection, but you still have the ability to connect with God at all times and all places everywhere," said Shaykh Suhail Hasan Mulla of the Islamic Society of West Valley.

Religious leaders Eyewitness News spoke to were in agreement that stepping back from large crowds is the right thing to do amid the pandemic.

"Again and again I'm hearing from congregants how much they're appreciating each other, how much they're appreciating their family," Zweiback said. "Not being able to see each other in the same way makes us long to see each other all the more."
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