Local churches still bringing members together through online streaming services

Published 3:40 pm Friday, March 20, 2020

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Our local churches are not exempt to the recommended closings of public gathering places. Most, if not all, have suspended regular services, as well as all activities that take place inside the actual church walls in an effort to help deter the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus.

But, at this time when all must become creative, the church leaders have called on resources of modern technology and are broadcasting their Sunday messages streaming live on the Internet, utilizing Facebook and YouTube, to reach their congregations. Some have been doing so for some time in order to be available to shut-ins and those who are unable to travel to the church on Sunday mornings.

First Baptist Church of Bainbridge is one of those. They are broadcasting their 11 a.m. Sunday services. But the work of the church doesn’t stop there. “Our deacons and youth are working together to see if we can be of some help to shut-ins,” said the church secretary Kathy Dugan, when interviewed by phone this week. They have been helping the Kids ‘N Kops package and deliver food and generally looking for ways to reach out to others. The Pastor, Chris Humphries is staying busy calling and contacting members of the congregation online to check on them and provide some much needed socialization.

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Likewise, Grace Church has cancelled all gatherings within the church building, but is streaming the services online. They have what they call Care Groups who have mobilized to check on the elderly and others who may have needs.

Sally Miller, an active member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, reports, “We did close last Sunday and will be closed this Sunday per recommendation of the Dioceses of Georgia, and of course the governor.” Prior to that they called and contacted all the parishioners to be sure they were okay and understood what they needed to do to protect themselves. “We have reached out to those in need.” Likewise, the special activities, such as the game days and book club readings have been cancelled until further notice. This creates another void in the need for socialization.

First Methodist Church has cancelled all services, but Pastor Melissa Traver is placing a Sunday service on Facebook and emailing the message to members of the congregation. They are continuing to offer the food pantry at the church on Tuesday mornings from 9 to 10 a.m.

First Presbyterian Church currently has an acting interim pastor, John Cole, who is doing a live Facebook broadcast from his home in Tallahassee at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Kimm and John Powell, active members of the church, indicated there is no organized outreach at this time, other than calling and checking on people. However, Kimm said they are continuing to provide for an elderly couple in their neighborhood for whom the church has provided Wednesday night dinners for quite some time. They have now delivered several frozen meals at a time that have been prepared from home.

The church is not far away. Most attempts to contact different congregations were met with a voice mail message stating that all Sunday services and other events were cancelled until further notice and left a phone number to call in case of emergencies.

One church was asked how they would handle the death of a member of their congregation. Would they hold a funeral? The answer coincides with the rules and guidelines laid out by the funeral homes, stating they will not hold any public viewings or hold any funeral services, but will offer gravesite burials restricted to close family members.

In these times when the word of the Lord is need most, the work of the church continues.

As Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 ,”For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”