During this period of caution and social distancing due to COVID-19, the district administrators of the Baltimore-Washington Conference offer this information to help keep congregations and communities connected while maintaining health and safety.
Below are a few conferencing and productivity tools, information about electronic giving, and easily accessible options to hold worship, prayer, Bible studies, and meetings remotely. These are also ways to expand the reach of your ministry within and beyond your congregation and community, to stay connected with worshippers, and to temporarily guide your members to online worship and fellowship with other congregations in our Connection even after the health crisis ends.
This information is designed primarily for congregations who have not yet tried these tools, and for those who would like to get started or expand their use of high- and low- tech options to keep people connected. Of course, many congregations already use one or more of these tools and can testify to their effectiveness and share lessons learned.
If you or your congregation have expertise or resources to assist another congregation in the use of these or other resources and would like to offer your name and email address to a church in need of one-on-one assistance, please let us know. Send an email to via the BWC website at www.bwcumc.org/contact-us/. If your church needs assistance with Zoom, Facetime, FreeConferenceCall.com, or another system, or you want to volunteer to help churches with technical needs, fill out this Google form.
VIDEO AND PHONE CONFERENCING
Zoom.us: Zoom is a video conferencing website and app with an option for users to phone in, making this a great option for smaller congregations to connect for worship or other virtual gatherings such as meetings, Bible studies and training. Click here to learn how to create an account, join and schedule a meeting, and so much more.
FreeConferenceCall.com: This is ideal for congregations who may not have internet connectivity or whose members and visitors are more comfortable on the phone than a computer. By signing up, you will receive a free phone number for participants to dial in, enter the passcode provided, and easily connect the host and/or pastor with up to 1,000 participants. For more information or to sign up, click here.
Allowing people to give electronically provides them the opportunity to give when they are not physically present in worship. E-giving is also a great option to offer your church on a regular basis.
The benefits are many. It makes people’s budgeting easier and is more secure than cash and checks. Statistics show that in many churches, 25 to 30 percent of regular worshippers are gone each weekend. Church revenues are increased when donations are received automatically on a scheduled basis uninterrupted by travel, sickness, family commitments, vacations, and a variety of other things that sometimes take people away from Sunday worship and giving. E-giving also means less work for staff and finance ministry members in that it streamlines the task of manually processing collections. It is paperless and more environmentally friendly.
If your church does not already offer electronic giving options, perhaps this is an opportunity to give it a try. Here are some e-giving options for your leadership’s review and consideration:
CREATING YOUR OWN ONLINE WORSHIP EXPERIENCE
Below are two options for creating or expanding a live, online worship experience for your church. This can be as simple as offering a prayer and brief reflection, or a more full-bodied worship experience including music, sermon, and announcements. There are multiple ways to create online worship. Here are a few:
Using YouTube and your Computer Webcam:
Using Facebook and your Mobile Device or Tablet:
Additionally, you can also pre-record your sermon or worship experience on your phone, tablet, or laptop and upload it to YouTube or Facebook as a post that people can watch whenever they wish. You can also share links to your worship recordings to your church website or send them directly to members, visitors, and friends via email or text.
CONNECTING TO OTHER WORSHIP EXPERIENCES IN THE CONFERENCE
If creating your own online worship is not a viable option at this time, we encourage you to connect with another church in your cluster, community, or across the conference in the coming weeks to join them in virtual worship and to glean what might work for your congregation. Social media and church websites are great ways to see which churches are offering worship via phone or the internet. We are still one, so let us reach out to one another, share ideas and resources, and take advantage of the many opportunities that this season presents for us to stay connected through technology.
A PRAYER FOR THESE CHALLENGING TIMES
Dear God, Creator and Source and Sign of our connection:
We turn to you during this challenging time as we once again claim the truth that we are still one. Remind us of that which unites us and the reality of our connection which runs deeper than any physical proximity or outward likeness.
We thank you for the means we have to join each other in spirit, continuing to express our love for you and one another, that we may be open to all and inclusive of all. Help us to use technology to build bridges and grow relationships, strengthening our communities of faith.
In that spirit, may our prayer extend to this whole world which you have created and to all who have need, both physical and spiritual, that through connections made, your peace that passes human understanding would prevail.
We offer this prayer in the strong and eternal name of Jesus,