I came to the incredibly hospitable and caring congregation of Concord Presbyterian Church on August 1, 2019. Off to a great start we have been listening, discerning and discussing together just who we are and just what God might be leading us to. So with high hopes we forged ahead. We had a great dinner and worship around the table together for Ash Wednesday and we formed small groups that were meeting in homes for a Lenten study. And then March 15 descended upon us, like it did everyone else. With the shelter in place order came a rapid succession of decisions on just how we would continue the ministry of the church in this new way.
It certainly helped the congregation and myself to find our footing as we quickly adapted to using Zoom, email and phone calls to communicate. On our final Sunday of worship in the sanctuary we instituted our “Concord Cares Guidelines.” It addressed health care guidelines and provided a way in which every member had someone checking in with them on a regular basis. Mission dollars were shifted from the plan of designated giving to how we could best meet immediate needs of those within the congregation as well as the larger community. This resulted in continued and increased support of feeding ministries in the community with both food drives and financial support. We then intentionally and regularly shared how we were determined to continue to be the church God called us to- even if we had to do things differently than we planned or expected.
The very first week of the shut down we began a Facebook live broadcast each Sunday from my home. We recognized that not everyone has computer access so we included a zoom phone call in each week as well as hand delivering an order of worship and copy of the sermon to those without computer access. While a lot of extra leg work, it has—over time—become our new routine. In fact we questioned why we hadn’t done a better job of this before the pandemic.
To provide virtual worship, my husband and I used and continue to use our computers, phones and iPads. Our music folks recorded songs that we played as part of the service, using a wireless microphone. To aid in worship we brought home worship banners from the church to use for our live broadcasts. We continued with our plans for Holy Week adjusting to have in home Maundy Thursday Service in which folks invited others to join over speakerphone a provided written liturgy together. For Good Friday everyone was provided a written prayer and fasting cycle with Scripture and devotionals. We then broadcasted an Easter Sunrise and our regular morning worship.
Again—we were always finding ways to worship together and include folks by offering options for worship while helping folks to feel as connected as possible during this time. We continue to provide a livestream, a zoom phone call in and written hard copies each week with great response both within and outside of the congregation.
There is continual work on providing safe guidelines for our congregation based on our call to love our neighbor as ourselves and we proceed not in fear but with caution to insure, to the best of our ability, the safety of all our members and guests. As summer has unfolded and the health restrictions lessened we decided to attempt a drive in style outdoor worship while continuing with our live stream and Zoom phone call in each week. This took some intentional planning in order to acquire a FM transmitter and adequate sound system to ensure everyone could hear—this is in addition to the continued use of our computer and phone for a wireless hotspot.
We also borrowed an additional microphone that connects directly to the computer for better sound quality on the livestream. It was funny that for our first two weeks outdoors we experimented with how to park cars so folks could best see me—which involved me preaching from our truck bed. But we have adjusted and now have found a better option that gets me out of the truck and allows everyone to see better.
Read more about Concord’s “drive-in” worship and other creative ways they stay connected in next week’s issue.
Telephone: (724) 452-7515
FAX: (724) 452-7522
Physical Address: 134-B South Main St, Zelienople, PA 16063