BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Religious leaders across Maryland are adapting to new ways to reach the masses under orders from Governor Hogan limiting public gatherings.

“We knew that before this, loneliness was a pandemic in America,” pastor Michael Collins of Harbor City Church in Glen Burnie said Wednesday. “We might be alone in our homes, but we can be together.”

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Collins, like several other faith leaders, broadcasts live online several days a week on the church’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

This weekend marks the start of the Christian Holy Week. Next week, Passover starts. Later this month, Ramadan will begin.

“My hope is that we come through this a little stronger,” Rabbi Daniel Burg of Beth Am Baltimore said Friday. “We’re preparing to encounter Passover in a way where, well, we haven’t for 3,200 years.”

Rabbi Burg broadcasts from an empty synagogue on Eutaw Place. He has also started Zoom bedtime stories and sing-alongs.

“It’s not easy, but most people seem to be able to participate through one of our personal platforms,” Burg said. “On one hand, I think I’m doing more pastoral care than I ever have in my career. On the other hand, I’m finding that people are reaching out to one another and even checking in with me.”

The Archdiocese of Baltimore livestreams services from the Cathedral of Mary our Queen with tips on how to celebrate mass at home.

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The Islamic Society of Baltimore has canceled in-person prayers and events but has used its YouTube page to reach people.

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State police, meanwhile, are urging religious organizations to voluntarily comply with Hogan’s emergency order.

Despite being deemed “non-essential,” religious organizations can still hold limited in-person services if social distancing and crowd size rules are followed. Clergy and worshippers cannot come into physical contact or pass around baskets or other items.

Drive-in worship services are also allowed with the same restrictions; worshippers are not allowed to leave their vehicles at any point and there can be no more than 10 people per vehicle.

For now, it’s the new normal for churches, and Collins is looking on the bright side.

“I actually kind of rather (prefer this) because there’s no one falling asleep, there’s no one getting distracted,” he joked. “I can just look at the camera and teach.”

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Paul Gessler