FAIRBORN — During a time when individuals are practicing social distancing and mass gathering are limited in size, local churches are getting innovative in how they reach attendees.
Several area-churches are streaming services thanks to modern technology.
“We may [not] be meeting in the four walls of the building, but we are doing everything we can to remain the ‘church’ and who we are called to be,” said Fairborn United Methodist Church Co-Pastor Meghan Howard, who leads the 11 a.m. contemporary services.
Howard reported that the West Ohio United Methodist Church Bishop has said that all West Ohio United Methodist Churches in-person gatherings are closed until at least after Easter. The Fairborn United Methodist Church has responded to the mandate by streaming both the 9:30 and 11 a.m. traditional and contemporary services online.
“The contemporary worship has been live streamed for around six years or so, so for them it wasn’t a huge stretch to go online,” Howard said. “However, our traditional service has not been streamed until this point.”
Church officials have kept in mind that some homes in the community are internet-less and are working to create DVDs for individuals to watch at home. The Fairborn United Methodist Church is mailing sermons to some local households so that individuals can read the messages as well.
“The last two weeks, people have been very receptive and thankful to have the ability to still connect, even though we cannot meet in person,” she said.
Messages are pre-recorded and are set to “go live” on Facebook, YouTube and forfairborn.org/worship during certain times to give church attendees the feeling of the messages being delivered live, as pastors are able to engage with individuals during the stream.
Online giving to the Fairborn United Methodist Church has been set for a number of years, but individuals are still able to mail in offerings as well. The Fairborn United Methodist Church daycare center is currently closed, and its clothing closet, which offers clothes to individuals in need, is open by appointment only. The church is also responsible for providing “SnakPaks” to children within the Fairborn City School District. Howard said all the SnakPaks have been donated to the schools so they can be distributed among the community.
“All things considered, we are doing as well as we can,” Howard said. “We continue to encourage our community to take care of each other from a safe distance — calling one another, texting one another and sending each other cards. We also created a list of people available to shop for our higher-risk members.”
Faircreek Church has also taken advantage of modern technology and is streaming services at 9:30 and 11 a.m. Sundays. Faircreek also offered a virtual “prayer time” with Pastor Greg Trout March 25 via Facebook, as well as opportunities to listen to the church’s messages via Spotify. First Baptist Church is also streaming services online.
Abiding Christ Lutheran Church and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church are collaborating to reach individuals in an online format.
“The Lutheran Saints in Ministry (LSIM) pastors, deacons and staff are working together to create and share our on-line social connections,” Abiding Christ Lutheran Church Pastor June Fryman said. “Over the next seven weeks, we have planned to record and broadcast worship services on Sunday morning — with all of us taking turns in a rotation to lead different parts of the worship service.”
On Sundays, Abiding Christ Lutheran Church and St. Marks Lutheran Church officials will offer Sunday school classes geared toward college aged student through 39 year old individuals. Children packets will also be sent out that are geared toward elementary and pre-elementary aged children; other classes geared toward youth will take place via GMail Meet and Zoom.
Video messages by Deacon Robyn Polingor Parish Nursh Beth Ewing or Faith Formation Director Heather McGee will be sent out Mondays and Tuesdays. One of the pastors or deacons will offer a mid-week devotional message as well as a children’s bible lesson, on Wednesdays. Vicar Benjamin Prill will lead an online bible study on Thursdays, and Pastor Peter Kruse will offer an evening prater service on Fridays. The LSIM will provide updates on Saturdays.
“It is our intention to keep the body of Christ socially connected while practicing physical distance for the health and safety of all,” Fryman said. “Knowing that spiritual care is vitally important to one’s overall health, we are doing our best to provide these opportunities for caring for the soul as well as caring for the body.”
Abiding Christ Lutheran Church, which has offered weekly free meals on Wednesday evenings for a number of years, is still offering those meals every Wednesday — but on a to-go basis. St. Marks Lutheran Church has the same offering, but on Thursday nights. LSIM officials are currently brainstorming outreach opportunities to help individuals in need without bringing people together.
“All churches stand ready to help anyone in need,” Fryman said. “No one should feel alone, even though we must be somewhat separated at this time … We are here to help with anything we can.”
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.