Ottawa: As in-person religious services start resuming in Canada after a pandemic lockdown forced many churches to close, one Ottawa parish is offering its congregation a unique way to connect with their faith — in a ‘God Pod’.
The four-by-six-foot glass compartment with a partition between two sides and an air filtration system to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, was unveiled to the public this week at the Saint John Lutheran Church in Ottawa’s New Edinburgh neighbourhood.
Pastor Reverend Joel Crouse, who gave the donated pod its nickname, said it has allowed parishioners to connect safely in these difficult times. “During this pandemic, many people have felt isolated and lonely. We’ve missed simply being together, to sit and listen, we’re always wondering if it’s safe,” he told AFP.
“The God Pod resolves all of the logistical issues — sitting too close, or having to wear a mask,” he said. “One parishioner said it was great just to be able to laugh out loud (in the pod) without worrying about spreading the coronavirus.”
Crouse said the ‘God Pod’ is wiped down and disinfected after each use, in accordance with public health guidelines. Its use is by appointment only. But all — pious and non-believers alike — are welcome to give it a try.
The prototype was designed and built by SnapCab, an Ontario company that makes enclosed office spaces. It is now ramping up production of the pods to sell. The pod has been used for prayer, but also for casual meetings as well as grief and marriage counselling sessions.
Isabelle Geraets-Rose told broadcaster CTV that her spirit suffered during the pandemic without regular contact with her congregation. She tried the pod at Crouse’s urging, telling CTV she quickly realized just “how much I missed seeing him and getting so much off my chest. The fact there was no mask and the glass was there; you really felt like you were free and safe.”
The pastor said the pod also makes it easier for him to read non-verbal communications, including facial expressions, body posture, and intonation.