Austin religious organizations find creative ways to connect amid COVID-19, protests

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some religious organizations are getting creative as they find new ways to connect with their congregations.

During times of civil unrest the church can be a pillar of hope and support, but with COVID-19 in the mix there are new challenges.

Pastor Sherwynn Patton with Life Anew Restorative Justice, has been working in Austin for many years, advocating for social justice as well as giving a voice to his community. With recent protests in Austin putting a focus on racism and police brutality, he finds himself speaking with congregations around Austin discussing some of the most heated topics, such as what racism is and what changes need to be made.

“I still wrestle with that part of me that is still so angry that I want to act out without restraint, but it is only the god in me that keeps me that keeps me from being able to do that,” said Patton. “So I can only imagine how it is for ​someone who doesn’t have necessarily those same beliefs or values that they subscribe to.”

The church is a place to gather and discuss tough topics, share stories of triumph and of course pray together with other members, but with COVID-19, Patton is finding new ways to connect. Phone calls and online Zoom meetings have become the new norm, and in a time of high emotions Patton says he is always there to talk with his members.

“I see people who have given up on asking,” said Patton. “I see pain. I see people who are really leaning on each other to create the hope we want to be able to see within our leaders. I see from the church, the church is in a position ​right now where we have to be able to hold up the folks.”

On Sunday, Patton as well as members from Mt. Zion and Austin Christian Fellowship, a predominately white congregation, will meet to discuss a number of topics about racism and what changes they would like to see.

Pastor Patton has also created a Change.org petition highlighting some of the changes he would like to see. For more on the changes he wants click here.

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