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Utah pastor: church busier than ever despite COVID-19

Pastor Brian Tebben of Life in Christ Church in Salt Lake City is finding ways to connect with--and grow--his congregation despite COVID-19 restrictions that have closed many church doors. (Photo: Life in Christ Church)

SALT LAKE CITY – Brian Tebben is the pastor at Life in Christ Christian Reformed Church in Salt Lake City. There hasn’t been a service at the church in a month due to COVID-19, and it can be tough to minister to the congregation.

“The oldest member of our church just turned 93, and we were not able to visit her. She was isolated in her apartment because even her son had contracted [COVID-19]. We talk as much as before, but the way we communicate can sometimes be a little difficult. We definitely miss seeing each other face-to-face,” Tebben says.

But despite the challenges of COVID-19, Pastor Tebben says he and the church are “busier than ever”.

He’s been posting his weekly sermons to YouTube, which has reached a larger audience than he expected.

“Even people who might not know me or our church in particular, they have found our videos on YouTube and have reached out to me through email and want to talk as well. I find I still have a lot of great conversations with people and, in fact, I think…my community has kind of expanded a bit because people are just looking for relationships and just to hear some comfort in these times,” Tebben says.

COVID-19 restrictions in Salt Lake City and other places have changed how churches do things, but Pastor Tebben says some things have stayed the same.

“I live in the 9th and 9th neighborhood near the church, and I do still see a lot of neighbors. Church friends will stop over. I’ve also taken walks at Liberty Park with friends and neighbors who just want to talk to me,” Tebben says.

He’s also heard from people who haven’t been to church in a long time.

Ultimately, Pastor Tebben is encouraged by a refocusing he’s seeing during this holy time.

“What we find hope in is not in what we do or how much is in our bank account or 401k. It’s in Jesus Christ…Those I know, even in my neighborhood who are not Christian, really think of Easter differently and a little more powerfully this year,” Tebben says.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States