The Rev. Michael Nabors.

The first Sunday of 2022 found many church-goers in front of their computers instead of in the pews.

With COVID-19 spreading quickly, even in highly vaccinated Evanston, several religious institutions have decided to hold services virtually instead of in the building.

At the Second Baptist Church, the Rev. Michael Nabors posted a Facebook announcement saying “Just one preacher and church here. But we have closed in-person worship during January. Love our people.”

There were nearly 20 responses, all supportive. “Safety first,” said one.

“The Church isn’t closing,” said another. “It’s just become more flexible and resilient.”

And the leader of a different house of worship, Rabbi Rachel Weiss of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, posted in support that their Friday night and Saturday morning services are also virtual, saying “Public health is a faith community value.”

The First Congregational Church of Christ, UCC had its Christmas Eve, Dec. 26, and Jan. 2 services moved online.

Not having Christmas Eve worship in person was, according to the church website, “a difficult decision we … [did] not take lightly.”

The church told its members of a recent memo from the Evanston Health and Human Services Department, which said organizations should “Avoid holding large indoor gatherings of employees and other groups of people. Workplaces and community centers are strongly encouraged to hold meetings and events virtually until further notice.”

With the Omicron variant of COVID continuing to spread, it seems likely that many other houses of worship will either continue remote services if they have been doing so already, or will switch to virtual events as a precaution.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.