The Exchange is a resource page where the churches and elders of the Presbytery of the West can post best practices and pass along lessons learned. The topic for the present is responding to Covid-19 and how that is effecting our congregations and community. The Presbytery of the West churches are responding to the follow topics: How are you doing church? How are you meeting the needs of your congregation and larger community? Needs that your congregation/session/staff have become aware of?
From Cherry Hills Community Church, a large suburban church in the Denver area:
Weekend services will look differently as we plan to honor social distancing as being asked by the Governor and President based on the CDC recommendation to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), while still gathering to worship and pray.
Here are all of the ways you can gather with us:
We would love for everyone in our church to cover one hour of 24/7 prayer monthly. The response to this has grown dramatically in the last week. 24/7 prayer is nearing 3 full people per hour interceding around the clock. That is nearly 500 hours of intercession a week for those in our church family and our surrounding community! Sign up for an hour-long prayer slot here.
We will be using 30 different spaces in our building that will hold small gatherings of ten people or less. Small gathering services will last one hour. Each room will have a teacher, worship leader and a host. These will not be video services.
You can go online and reserve spots for you and your family/party. Please click below to RSVP to the service time of your choice.
We will be offering a Drive-Up Church gathering. Picture a drive-in movie, but with staggered parking. People will remain in their cars and view service safely.
Drive-Up Church will take place for our three main weekend services at their normal service times: Saturday at 5pm, Sunday 9am, and Sunday 11am. These services will be approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes in length. There is no RSVP needed for the drive-up services. Enter off of Grace Boulevard through the main entrance and our team will guide you to your spot.
We will be live-streaming this weekend’s services for those who are unable or prefer not to attend. Check out the livestream via Facebook or Youtube, or download the Cherry Hills App on Amazon Fire, Roku or Apple TV.
From Johnny Long and Hope Church, a very large church in Cordova, Tennessee:
Here is the info for Hope’s Covid19 response.
From Doug Brown, Pastor at Greenwood Community Church, a large suburban church.
Here’s what we’re doing right now (obviously it’s fluid):
- We are filming a weekly video of me doing a shorter message (about 20 minutes) in a casual setting. We are providing a worship playlist on Spotify. Next week we are going to try to introduce two songs (beginning/end) that are our worship guy. This gets emailed and posted on our social media (Facebook and Instagram) and on our website on Saturday afternoon.
- Starting this Monday (3/23) we will also be posting on social media a daily video devotion by a staff member that will be 5-10 minutes.
- We have divided our congregation into two basic groups. Those in small groups and those who are not. We are asking our small group leaders to shepherd the people in their group. The rest will be divided among staff and elders. While we are being asked to avoid discretionary social interactions, we are encouraging everybody to connect through Zoom, Facetime etc.
- We are holding our staff and Session meetings by Zoom.
- We don’t yet know the needs of our congregation right now until we start to make contact with them as discussed above.
Doug Brown Lead Pastor Greenwood Community Church 303.843.0281 Website: www.GreenwoodCC.com
An update received from Phil Bellamy and Advent Presbyterian Church in Cordova, Tennessee:
Here is an update on what Advent is doing now. The decision was made yesterday to suspend church services and all activities until further notice.
However, we will have preaching via our Facebook and YouTube apps twice on Sundays at the regular time.
Different ministry teams have been set up to handle different areas of the church. Spiritual, financial, youth, small groups, etc.
We have made available our ZOOM capabilities for groups to meet virtually and to stay united as a Sunday school class, small group, etc.
We have set up a special Covid-19 account for people who want to give to to help those affected by loss of work or loss of job because of the virus.
From Doug Resler, Pastor at Parker EPC:
We are a larger suburban church of about 650-700 regular attenders on a weekend including kids. We met online for the first time this past weekend with great success and engagement. In fact, we estimate that we had a much larger than average weekend simply due to all the attention surrounding the virus and the newness of our online presence. We will be doing online worship for the time being until restrictions are lifted.
We have cancelled all group gatherings due to the recent guidelines on groups less than 10 that just came out. At the same time, we are utilizing social media and Zoom video conferencing to still meet and keep people engaged. We are planning on pushing out content on a regular basis for consistency sake.
We have initiated a “call tree” using our deacons and other volunteers to call literally every family that we have in our database. It’s a monumental effort but worth it as everyone gets a touch base. As needs arise, we are meeting them in-house. Nothing significant as of yet but we expect financial needs to start pouring in now that businesses are shut down.
Rev. Dr. Doug Resler
From Ryan Cook, Pastor at Springhill Presbyterian Church, Bozeman, Montana:
- Our church size is medium, two sites. Just under 400 in worship typically. We’ve opted to do church a number of ways.
- On Sunday’s we’ll have an online worships service, abbreviated to about 25 minutes. We plan to make it more interactive by asking questions in the lesson that people can respond to online together. I’ll have a computer open so that I too can interact while in my lesson.
- Our Children’s Director is making plans to do a Vlog for parents including children’s books read online, tips for parents in talking about the virus, and “home schooling” in place of Sunday School.
- Throughout the week, we’re offering a vlog for our community called “A Psalm a Day to Keep Fear Away.” In addition, our elders are calling every person in the church to check in. We’ve also set up a pastor’s line to connect directly for prayer. We’ve also snail mailed our new directory to the entire church with an encouragement to reach out to five people every day by FaceTime, text, phone, or email. We’ve also encouraged our church to buy gift cards from local business and then donate them to those in need, as well as check in with neighbors too see how we might help.
- Our biggest need right now in Bozeman is mental health and pastoral care. We’re concerned for shut ins who can no longer make physical contact with others. We’ve experienced an increase in anxiety episodes including some that have become medical emergencies.
Hope this helps… One day at a time! God is good… all the time. Praying for you as I hit the send button this afternoon.
Rev. Ryan Cook Lead Pastor Springhill Presbyterian Church www.springhillpres.com
From Faith EPC, Loveland, Colorado. A midsized church in an urban environment.
In response to your request for information regarding our experiences with COVID-19:
How are we doing church. Our response was changing daily late last week up through Friday afternoon when we decided it was prudent to cancel all services. I am estimating over half of our congregation is over 60 years of age and more than 25% is over 75 years of age. We have approximately 450 attendees per Sunday. Our worship director added links on our website for online worship via YouTube. Our Pastor, Brian Myers, posted an audio only sermon with links on our website.
We are continuing to have discussions about ways we can meet the needs of our congregation and community. We are also trying to identify what our resources are, how to we manage them, what are the immediate and future needs and how do we effectively communicate with our teams. No solid answers here yet.
Our current focus has been how to continue the operations of the church and how to communicate while staying within the guidelines issued from local and federal government organizations. We are trying our first Webex staff meeting this morning and hope to use the same tools for our Session meeting this evening.
This is where we are for now.
From a Cornerstone Church in Stapleton, Nebraska, small rural church:
- Nothing has changed for us. We are a small rural church. So far, the nearest official coronavirus case in 3 1/2 hours away.
- I believe we are meeting the needs of the community. I addressed the virus in a special message this past Sunday (3/15) to remind people we have the victory regardless the current circumstances.
- So far, because of our remoteness, we are lessening the personal contact somewhat, but nothing has popped up for us here. ___________________________________________________________________
From Christ Covenant Church (Leoti, KS) firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Small Church (Averaging about 115). Church was in person last Sunday and we are exploring either continuing that for one more week, splitting to two services to stay under 50, or going us to live stream (we currently record video anyway just don’t livestream).
2. Our deacons and elders are dividing up all regular attenders into groups and will work on contacting by phone or text each family unit if we are forced to go to livestream only to check in on them once a week.
Stephen Morefield Pastor Christ Covenant EPC ccleoti.com