Last Sunday, the weather across the East Coast was rather frightful and a number of churches were not able to have their traditional service. What can you do in this instance? You could cuddle up next to the fire under a warm blanket or you could offer church in different ways. Whether you are cancelling church altogether or are expecting decreased attendance, there are many ways that you can connect to those at home or far away.
Here are some suggestions:
Link to churches that live stream their services!
When St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Raleigh couldn't open their doors, they shared the link on Facebook to Trinity Wall Street so that their parishioners could be part of a service from their homes.
This is a very easy way to connect your parishioners with liturgy. Some other churches that live stream their services are Washington National Cathedral, St. Mark's Episcopal Church, and St. Philip's Cathedral. I am sure there are many more. Please share other links in the comments!
Share a Morning Prayer liturgy on your website.
Abingdon Episcopal Church in Gloucester, VA got a foot of snow and they were not able to host a service in the church last Sunday, so they did Snowday Worship! They offered the morning prayer liturgy with readings for the day on their website and asked the congregation to do it in their own homes at 9 am. They shared links to it on social media.
You could take this one step farther and ask the congregation to join you on Twitter as you tweet the service 140 characters at a time or have one person lead the liturgy on Facebook Live. There is even a handy website that has converted the Book of Common Prayer to tweetable sections.
Facebook Live your service!
Facebook Live is still a relatively new service for many people. It is an accessible, inexpensive way to connect in person with others on social media. We have used it for our Diocesan Convention for the investiture of our new bishop and to share a jazz duet by a member of the diocese and the mayor of Charleston. I saw other people on Facebook were planning to use it to share their sermon for the day or lead worship from afar. If you were able to hold a service but most of your congregation was not able to attend, then bring them into the church using the technology available.
- If you are officiating or preaching, have another person hold the camera.
- Confirm that you have a strong wi-fi signal. If not, I have used my phone data and it used a minimal amount for a few minutes of video.
- Pay attention to the background so that it is not distracting as well as identify any noise that will interfere with people hearing the main audio.
- Let people know ahead of time that you will be doing the video so they know to come back and watch. Repeat this multiple times for best effect.
- Prepare a few minutes before you plan to stream. Have everything you need in close reach and start the post so you can type in the description. You will need at least a minute before you start streaming to get Facebook set up.
If people have evacuated, let them know where churches are near them to attend.
During the evacuation for Hurricane Matthew, many parishioners in our diocese were scattered in the Upstate, Atlanta, and the mountains of North Carolina. We shared the Church Finder on The Episcopal Church website so that they could a place near by to worship. In the midst of turmoil, it was a comfort to find an Episcopal church to embrace us with the familiar liturgy and hospitable welcome.
Create church where you are.
When my family evacuated to North Carolina for the hurricane last fall, we realized that there was a large group of us in close proximity so we planned our own service on the top of a mountain. Sixteen people from four congregations that did not know what we would be traveling back to later that week, shared in the body of Christ. I blogged about the experience for Grow Christians.
How does your church handle snow days, floods, hurricanes or other interruptions? Please share in the comments.