|Local pastors John Voan Deusen, Marcus Bigott, and Kelsie Theiss (left to right) participating in their weeky joint worship service. Source: Living Lutheran|
As congregations scrabbled to grapple with the new realities of virtual church with the advent of the pandemic, one Texas Lutheran congregation got creative. When ordinances were put in place at the height of the pandemic limiting in-person gathering, Emanuel Lutheran Church of Seguin, Texas took advantage of its radio broadcast program.
For more than half a century, the congregation’s weekly services have been a fixture on the local KWED-AM station Sundays at 10:30 AM. Already a fixture in the community, the popularity of the broadcast skyrocketed during the pandemic.
According to Emanuel Pastor, Marcus Bigott, “Through continued planning, we realized this facilitated only one part of our normal worship time together, as we knew our folks wanted a visual place to gather as well—not just the audio.”
Partnering with another local Lutheran parish, St. John Lutheran Church in nearby Marion, the congregation started a pandemic partnership where both churches were able to take advantage of the other’s technical expertise. Using a combination of iPads and iPhones, the congregations’ leaders added a Facebook and YouTube worship service.
Four months into the partnership, leaders of Emanuel and St. John invited Andrew Lemlyn, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Seguin, to join them to help them reach a larger audience and enhance their technical know-how.
Becoming a pandemic hub for social media activity, Emanuel’s Facebook page and YouTube channel blossomed. The pastors rotated who preached, who presided at communion and who welcomed the various communities to worship. As time progressed various aspects of music were added, and the filming venue rotated between the congregations’ sanctuaries.
Bigott said, “Our goal was to create a worship service that met our folks where they were, and to some extent where many still are, as the pandemic intensified and plateaued. Working together, across ecumenical lines and in partnership with our bishops, allowed the worship weight to fall across numerous pastors, lay leaders and musicians, versus just a select few.”
Office secretary and treasurer for St. John Lutheran Church Pennie Swanson said the cohort was instrumental in keeping members of the congregation and community connected.
“Working with Emanuel’s Lutheran Church and allowing us to take part in its knowledge and technology helped our members and community stay focused and in touch with one another and, more importantly, Jesus,” she said. “It has been a joy, and I hope we can continue to grow together in Christ Jesus.”
Source: Living Lutheran