Digital Sunday Update: Local churches adapt and find new audiences

March 26, 2020

As churches around the California-Nevada connection prepare to navigate their third Sunday out of the sanctuary, pastors and laity are skilling up and having learning and successes around online worship.  Here are some reports from churches across the conference.

Please let us know how your church is developing best practices in this time of coronavirus - COVID-19.  You can post your ideas, questions and concerns as well as respond to those of folks around the conference at our bulletin board.  You can also post prayers, especially in this time, on our prayer wall.  Both are located on the coronavirus page of the conference website.

Blessings as we journey together.

Sadie Stone, Bethany UMC

For worship this past Sunday, we pre-recorded everything in small segments. My music director recorded all the music from her home, I recorded all of my parts and then I learned how to use video editing software to turn it into a cohesive worship service. 

When the music was playing, I had slides up on the screen for folks to sing along with. I then used an online program called Live reacting that did all the embedding work of the video and I was able to schedule it to go live on facebook at the appropriate time with that third party company. Life reacting creating a 20 minute countdown as well before worship went live. The service being pre-recorded but broadcast live allowed for real time interaction between our congregation during the service. It was a new experience in every way but overall was a success. 

Matthew Pearson, Pastor, Elk Grove UMC

Originally we had planned to do a 2 location multi site live-stream over facebook live.  We tested it on Saturday and it worked well, but Sunday morning Zoom would not link to Facebook Live (I know of other churches that had this problem only on Sunday morning).  So we adapted and I did my parts on one live stream(prayers, scriptures, Sermon, announcements) and then the Music director did all of the songs together on a separate Facebook live stream .... it worked well, but was a different order of everything ..... we had about 80 devices connected and folks were very engaging in the comments.  I asked one of our facebook admins to play the role of "digital greeter" saying welcome and engaging folks in the comments. 
This week I am exploring how to implement zoom meetings for our small groups/committees. We ended up subscribing to the lowest level Zoom account (about $18 a month) and I think it will serve the needs for our 215 member church .

Jason Thorton, Manteca UMC

Worship is going well.  We are using a MeVo camera to produce our livestream of worship on FaceBook each Sunday at 10:00am.  Each week we improve.  We will be posting to YouTube this Sunday as well.  We are planning for a special Palm/Passion Sunday worship.  I am hoping that the bishop will produce a livestream worship service for Easter!!

Becky Stockdale, Pastor, Portola UMC

Worship online at PUMC is happening!  We have a Fireside Worship sent out to the church via Email, Facebook, and can also be found on our website. The first one was in respond to being snowed in even before the virus kept us in. After receiving positive feedback and realizing that over 4 times the number of people watched than we have in church. The second week, the data showed more people watching, but what was even more exciting was the number of young people who commented on the feed and/or send me private messages. It seems that because of being captive in our homes, and wider demographic is being served through this medium. I believe that it will be important to continue to perfect the delivery and continue to be creative as we all start thinking about how best to celebrate Holy Week in this new space and in this new way. Stay safe everyone and let’s keep sharing ideas!