Submitted by Connie Sykes, from Frontier, SK
The pandemic has pushed us into trying things that we probably wouldn’t have considered before. Making more use of technology is one of those things that we hadn’t quite imagined could help us as a pastoral charge, until we found ourselves having to stay apart.
Only a week or so into ‘the lockdown’ I saw a video on one of the pages I follow, where members of a congregation sent their greetings to each other. Many were outside, or standing at their doors, and I think the occasion was for Palm Sunday.
When I had the chance over the next few weeks, I collected video clips when visiting people at their doors. Those clips stayed on the cell phone, until we reached November, and found ourselves still ‘locked down’ or isolated, or whatever variation we were doing at that time. It was clear, that we weren’t going to be having any Christmas gatherings, and we were missing each other. Texts and phone calls just don’t fill the gap when you can’t look in someone’s eyes.
Our pastoral charge has 3 points, and in one of those points are 2 young men who have set up a video/photography business. Church members asked this business for their help, and they graciously donated their time and expertise. A few people met to discuss who to invite to be part of the video. They included some of our elders, people who were new to the church community, some whom we hadn’t seen involved in the church in a long time, and those who help keep the church running through their time, efforts, and money. They contacted people ahead, so they could be prepared. Sometimes different generations from the same family gathered so the videographer could make one stop instead of 2 or 3.
When the video was posted, word spread quickly. Delight was the response from most people. It was so good to see and hear each other. We saw more interest in our Facebook page, from people who had moved away, and from people who didn’t even know we were on Facebook. We see some of them regularly now when we post our worship service or other events.
Those who organized the video started with less than 20 households. The next year, they called over 40 households. It has become a highlight. The videography business has also posted it on their Facebook page, so it has had even wider viewing than through our church page. And to show appreciation, the organizers filled a big basket with Christmas baking, snacks and other goodies for the two young men who did such a great job.
That left the other 2 points, who didn’t feel they could ask for the same favour from these young men who weren’t part of their communities. But there are a lot of cell phones out there. We encouraged people to make their own short videos and post them to the church page. Different generations could help make this happen. A few did, and we enjoyed seeing those faces and hearing those voices. We would have been happy to see greetings from those who have moved farther away as well.
Our next step will be to apply for a grant through Edge to hire the videographers, and to extend the greetings for all 3 points in our pastoral charge. We’re also thinking that this is a way we can tell more stories about our church community, and create more interest.
If you were to travel from the eastern end of our pastoral charge to the western edge, it would take more than an hour. One of the challenges for us has always been to do things together as a church community because of distance. The pandemic has helped us find ways around that obstacle.