Black churches adapt to coronavirus

The church already was conducting services online live on Facebook and its website. They also stream over the internet via the website StreamYard. “ ...
Black churches adapt to coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic continues as the number of infections and deaths rise.

Despite plans by the federal government and many state and local governments to reopen the economy and services, life remains mostly on hold. Meanwhile families, businesses, governments, non-profits and social justice organizations continue to adjust their ways of doing things.

Church worship services are no different. Local Black churches are adjusting by transitioning worship services to online platforms as well as coming up with other innovative means.

Master’s Domain Church of God in Christ is not only having its services streamed online via their website and going live on Facebook. The church also holds worship services outside in the parking lot.

“We haven’t missed a beat. We’ve been able to adjust and provide a safe alternative. People drive up in their cars and stay safely inside them. I got the idea from a church on the beachside and figured we can do it too,” responded Rev. Derrick Harris, the pastor.

The outdoor services are even attracting people in the neighborhood and passersby.

Harris explained, “It’s going quite well. Attendance has been good. People have even come up on bikes and stopped in. The neighbors sit on their porches and join in. We’ve also had those who attend churches that have closed down come worship with us.”

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Hope Fellowship Church at 869 Derbyshire Road quickly altered its services.

Senior Pastor John Paul McGee said, “I want to say we were one of the first churches to suspend in-person services and go to an online platform to maintain our parishioners’ health. In crises like this, bringing together 300 people is not something we should do. We were quickly able to transition over to virtual services. Anything we do as a congregation we can basically do online.”

The church already was conducting services online live on Facebook and its website. They also stream over the internet via the website StreamYard.

“We are all worshiping from home. On StreamYard, we can go to multiple screens. We are also having our leadership meetings and group sessions conducted online via Zoom,” added McGee.

Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 580 George W. Engram Blvd. is having service on YouTube and by teleconference via telephone. Despite the success of online services, there are some challenges.

Allen Chapel’s pastor, Dr. Nathan Mugala, commented, “It’s not the same. We are built to fellowship. We aren’t really in touch with our members due to the restriction guidelines set by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). We are encouraging and challenging our members to check on each other.”

Online worship is also difficult on seniors.

“It’s really tough for seniors. Many don’t have access or knowledge on current technologies and some don’t have family. Our men’s ministry has been tasked to check on our seniors and assist them with their needs,” noted Mugala.

On the other hand, some churches’ seniors have adapted well to online services.

McGee emphasized, “We’re blessed at Hope to have some tech-savvy seniors. We also burn and deliver CDs and DVDs of worship service to many others. One of our pastor’s duties is to check up on the elderly.”

Churches have also come up with innovative ways to take offerings and donations.

“We use a website called Givelify. We are also taking mail-in and drop-offs at our office on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.,” Mugala explained.

McGee echoed, “We collect about 75 percent of our offerings online. You can do it on our website. We also use the cell phone applications CashApp and PushPay. On Tuesday, we have office hours from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. as well.”

Worldwide audienceHaving to go online due to the COVID-19 has also had a positive for local Black churches.

“It has allowed us to reach larger audiences. We now have people from all over the country and the world listening to our services. Some are even joining our congregation. We’ve been reaching between 7,000 and 10,000 people for worship services online,” explained McGee.

Mugala added, “We have been blessed to be able to reach those who normally don’t come to church or don’t come at all. Also, more people can tune in when streaming online.”


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