In this new age of the novel coronavirus, the ban on mass gatherings has led to the unfortunate closure of churches and places of worship. Traditional Orthodox priests in Greece and abroad have chartered new territory with the live streaming of religious services that some once thought unthinkable or even sacrilegious. The Holy Synod which governs the autocephalous Church of Greece belatedly gave its blessing to the live streaming of all Easter Holy Week services in one and only one church in each diocese in Greece while a number of clerics expressed their discontent with the closing of churches and the possible widespread broadcasting of religious services on television or social media platforms.
In Canada, one or another Greek Orthodox church has live streamed religious services via the likes of Facebook or Youtube since the Archbishop of Canada Sotirios ordered all Greek Orthodox priests in Canada to conduct services behind closed doors on Friday, March 20, 2020.
On Holy Saturday evening, a moveable holiday observed on April 18 this year, at least 2,865 people tuned in to watch the first part of the Easter Resurrection service at one or another church in the Metropolitan Montreal area which began about 11 pm and culminated around midnight with the joyous Easter chant “Christ Is Risen”. The Resurrection service conducted by Bishop-elect Father Demetrios Antonopoulos at Saint-George Cathedral had the greatest number of concurrent viewers while the service at Saints Constantine and Helen Church in Montreal’s West Island conducted by Father Lambros Kamperidis was the second most watched.
The closing of Greek Orthodox churches to the public in Canada during the most frequented period of the church calendar has also had dire financial consequences for the Communities that maintain the church properties and pay the salaries of the priest, chanter and sexton, and monthly contributions to the Archdiocese. The oldest and largest of these religious organizations, the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal, is facing unprecedented liquidity challenges as its six churches remain closed to the public and there are no church collection trays.
The Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal has begun a new online fundraising campaign called «Keep the Faith during COVID-19 Fund: Our Churches Need Your Help» and donations may be made via its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/notes/hellenic-community-of-greater-montreal/the-hcgm-keep-the-faith-during-covid-19-fund-our-churches-need-your-help/4463511590341558
Most concurrent viewers of Resurrection Services
based on Facebook (fb) and Youtube (yt) live connections
805 Saint-George Cathedral (fb)
291 Saint-George Cathedral (yt)
516 Saint-Constantine DDO (fb)
264 Holy Cross Laval (fb)
237 Holy Cross Laval (yt)
351 Evangelismos Tis Theotokou (fb)
180 Saint-Nicholas Laval (fb)
141 Koimisis Tis Theotokou (fb)
80 Saint-John Baptist – Grande-Allée (fb)
* Most concurrent viewers is based on the number of different devices tuned in to a live event at a given time and may differ from the actual number of viewers as two or more individuals may share a device.