Pastor Brenda Nestegaard-Paul stands in the middle of Trinity Church’s sanctuary on Sunday, March 22, where she placed the names of her parishioners in empty pews while praying for each of them. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Vancouver Island reverend keeps up congregation’s spirits during COVID-19 restrictions

Pastor Brenda gets personal while praying among the pews

A pastor in Port Alberni, B.C. has found a way to keep her flock connected despite social distancing restrictions due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Reverend Brenda Nestegaard Paul of Trinity Church has made labels for every member of her congregation and placed names on pews where people usually sit for Sunday services. She found inspiration from an Italian priest who printed pictures of his parishioners behind every pew.

“I wasn’t going to be able to get pictures, but I know everybody’s names,” said Nestegaard Paul. “I know pretty much where everybody sits.”

There are approximately 65 people in Trinity’s active congregation.

“The response I received from the congregation was overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “They so appreciated that I did that. It helps when we’re not able to be together, to have something visible, something tactile to show we’re still all together.”

“It was such an amazingly creative way to make us all still feel connected,” said Laura Sturgeon, a member of the congregation.

Nestegaard Paul intends to keep this up every Sunday until she is able to invite her congregation back to the sanctuary.

“I will gather there every Sunday morning and just be praying for people amidst the names,” she said.

She e-mailed a photo taken by Bronwynn Nestegaard Paul to every member of the congregation, and will supply a hard copy of the photo as well. ”As they receive my prayers they can hold their picture in their hand or in front of them when we are praying for one another, to help keep us connected virtually.

“We’re still the body of Christ, and no virus can separate us.”

Nestegaard Paul’s sermons are available online at The church also has a Facebook page.

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