CALGARY -- A minister at a United church in Calgary has come up with a way to deliver God's message to his congregation because of rules against gatherings amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

John Pentland, lead minister at Hillhurst United Church in Kensington, filmed a sermon Friday in an entirely empty sanctuary but, to make the situation a little more real for him, he had photographs of his smiling church members taped to the pews.

The move was to fill a gap that was left when he recorded his first online-only service last week, officials say.

"The lack of smiling faces was difficult," Anne Yates-Laberge, Hillhurst's director of operations, said in a release. "I decided to print profile pictures from members of our Facebook group, The HUB, which includes 300 congregants."

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The result was all pews in the church filled with images of community members.

Pentland leads services online on Hillhurst United's Facebook page every Sunday.