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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Churches reach out with technology during COVID-19 pandemic
Video and digital outreach accessed
 
Published Sunday, March 29, 2020 10:19 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

THE PARK MINISTRIES
The Park Church, like other Charlotte houses of worship, is moving toward digital worship services, Bible studies and other outreach.

African Americans have always been able to turn to the church in times of trouble.

The spread of coronavirus forced houses of faith to embrace going fully digital with worship services, Bible studies and other offerings. For places of worship like The Park Church and Mount Carmel Baptist Church it’s about continuing to serve their congregations as the world navigates an unprecedented pandemic.

“This new reality is causing us to come to grips with how important human connection really is,” said Bishop Claude Alexander, senior pastor at The Park Church. “We’re realizing just how significant being in a space together really is. For the African American church, it has not just been the place of religious instruction, but it has also been the place of safety. It has been the place of cultural affirmation and survival. It has been the place of really locating yourself. All of that is now challenged by what we’re under.”

Those who don’t often engage in a digital setting must make the transition in order to hear sermons. Churches offer live streaming through social media such as Facebook Live or YouTube, as well as their own platforms.


“The first step in really moving forward is realizing the sense of loss, and naming it for what it is,” Alexander said. “It’s a grief. That’s first. Secondly is being able to create, to the best of your ability, ways of continued connectedness, and leveraging technology to really be able to do that.”

Said Mount Carmel Baptist Pastor Casey Kimbrough: “We will equip our people care for each other and to serve one another, which is not new in terms of our community, it will just be heightened. People will be encouraged to do that, and particularly that we are in great communication with our senior population, and that they are being supported, and that our seniors know how to access technology to join us.”


Churches who do not have the ability to livestream or produce digital content can reach out to Kimbrough.


“If there are smaller communities who may not have the resources that a larger church has, we do want to try to help them as well,” he said. “If we can help them get their witness out, we certainly want to do that. They can reach out to me, if they would like, and we can connect them with somebody who can help them in terms of navigating the technology piece.”
Said Alexander: “How do we make that technology available to them or train their people? Those conversations are constantly being had.”


Kimbrough described the technological transition as an opportunity for expansion.


“We’re looking at it as an opportunity to grow the church, rather than from the point of regression,” he said. “There are multiple communities who have been worshiping online for many years, and of course we’ll look to those communities for guidance, and seek to learn from their experience.”


Alexander emphasized that creating member-to-member connectivity throughout the coronavirus is just as important as facilitating church-to-member connection.  He referenced leveraging different video conference call platforms, such as Zoom, to reach a larger number of people.


Relationships fostered through church small groups remain key during COVD-19 to continue what Alexander described as “care, discipleship, fellowship and outreach.”

“After things relax a little bit and it’s no longer gatherings of [a maximum] 10 people, or stay in your house, they still are able to care for each other,” Alexander said.

Alexander also encouraged people to see where they live as their mission field.

“How do people reach out to neighbors and engage them?” he asked.

Churches will have to contend with the approaching Easter season, which often means some of the largest church services of the year. Easter falls on April 12.

“The Easter season is big with our family and our children, and just like the school system is having drive-through lines for meals for kids, we haven’t crafted it yet, but there’s a real possibility that we will create something in that model for the Easter experience,” Kimbrough said. “We cannot gather in groups to worship, but we may put something together for our children and seniors with a family member in the car, can drive by and just pick up some things. It hasn’t been finalized, but we’re looking to model examples in the community, like Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, who introduced that for meals, and others who will be doing innovative things.”


Said Alexander: “The big thing for Christian churches to really wrap their minds around is if this continues into the Easter season, and how disruptive that is because we’re used to having Holy Week services, and Easter is perhaps the largest attended Sunday of the year. How do you do Resurrection Sunday virtually? We’re talking every day.”


Churches have some resources to financially support those in need, but Mount Carmel and The Park are accepting donations on their websites.


“We do want to be of service and to help people when they find themselves in that kind of need,” Kimbrough said. “They can go to the www.mcbaptsit.org website, and they can give by tagging their donation as ‘missions’ there.”  


On the Net:
www.mcbaptist.org
https://theparkministries.org

Comments

We are the church! Covid19 will NOT stop our mission of reaching, teaching and equipping people for the service of God! Nor for caring for our neighbors!
Job well done Pastors Kimbrough and Alexander!
Posted on April 1, 2020
 

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