By Tim Barry
Heritage Green Baptist Church,
2020 has been the most disruptive year in our congregation’s history. At the beginning of the year, we were very much like many established churches in the province—a loving community of believers, devoted to God, serving our members and the community through in-person services and groups devoted to prayer, learning, and fellowship. Our digital footprint was restricted to a few web pages and occasional recordings of our Sunday morning services.
Adapting to change and the new-found benefits
As COVID shut down gathering within the church building, our pastor and his wife transitioned to virtual services operating on a personal iPad through Zoom. Four or five glorious weeks of late spring weekend weather allowed for hosting Zoom (and limited in-person congregants) on the back lawn under the trees and helped us get our feet wet with this new digital reality. Summer followed with various forms of Zoom from home and then hybrid Zoom/in-church services when local restrictions allowed.
Late fall brought a new disruption to Heritage Green as our Pastor and his wife planned to retire and move away to be closer to their family. The weather no longer allowed any form of outdoor services and indoor restrictions were expected to limit our gatherings for the foreseeable future. Our existing sound room equipment lacked any camera capabilities and could not handle the combination of Zoom, screen projector and related multimedia without stalling.
Although we considered using pre-recorded services, we really felt God leading us to continue with live weekly services. As we began researching equipment necessary to meet the new virtual needs we learned the CBOQ Communications Enhancement Grant had become available. This grant, in addition to our own available funds, allowed us to replace the computer, acquire a video camera and purchase a Zoom annual license to handle more people on the presentations.
New Friends and Expanded Outreach
Fast forward to 2021 and with some limited in-person groups allowed, we are able to have individual worship teams and speakers in the sanctuary each week and broadcast the service out to the remainder of our church community. I always enjoy the pre- and post-service conversations that can be experienced via the Zoom meetings. I believe this is especially vital as it allows us to engage with those members who have become increasingly isolated due to the lockdown restrictions.
This is an exciting time for us as we have continued to make new friends across the country and around the world! Over the past several weeks our services have included families from across the globe including locations in Ontario, Manitoba and BC, as well as new partners in Kenya and Hyderabad, India!
As COVID restrictions begin to relax, we look forward to again adding some “face-to-face” time with old friends, but the connections with the wider world community and the new friendships we have formed are here to stay!