The Church in the Corona Era

Dealing with the times we live in

The Church in the Corona Era






January 2021

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Christmas Eve Service went well. It was outside with a sheet as a screen and harp and piano played in the church room in front of an open door off the back yard. We had squares/rectangles/trapezoids marked off with a candle in each and each family unit had to stay in their area but could move around inside it. Masks were worn the whole time and we only were allowed to hum. (click the picture to go to the photos.)
A tent was set up and I gave a devotional from 2.Cor.5 in which Paul wants to leave this tent and go to be with the Lord. We are not the tent but what is inside the tent. Max, our co-workers son and our “grandson” helped by going into the tent. We could not see him but he was still there. He was more important than the tent. The application was God came to earth and took on a tent which did not change his God-ness but he looked like all the other tents until he taught and acted. And the German saying: “Main thing is good health,” is not true. We can repair the tent but the main thing is our relationship to God.
One man from the church came reluctantly and was glad he did; he even complimented me on the devo. We had 8 outsiders (including the woman and daughters and a woman who was depressed and we had had over several times).
We also heard from two neighbours that they were with us. They could either hear us or one could see the projections and the music.
It rained until 2 pm and then stopped; we started at 4 pm. Although it was cold it was dry.

December

Church services are still allowed but a few more people have opted for Zoom instead of the live service. Our attendance has been about the same if you count the people in the building and the people coming over Zoom. The church is upgrading the DSL speed so that we have fewer jerks and jitters in the service. I have started a sermon series on Waiting, how people in the Bible waited and how they lived in that time of waiting.

We are trying to figure out about a Christmas Eve service outside in the back yard this. It would be shorter than usual because everyone would be standing and it will be cold. We cannot have hot drinks and cookies afterwards like usual. It will also be by invitation and RSVP. We have to keep a record of who attends all church services. Please pray for wisdom, that there is interest and we invite the right people. One woman said she will come with at least one daughter for sure.

October End

While we were in the States, Burkhard Holzner was to preach for me one Sunday but he did not show up for church. Two of the men went looking for him and found him dead at the kitchen table. It was quite a shock for the church even though we knew he had several health problems.
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The church was to take care of everything for him in this case. So in our absence they prepared the funeral service and carried it out. Zach Murphy, who with his wife had lived and worked with Burkhard hoping to start a church in Celle, came back from Cologne where they now work to lead the service. Most who attended were from the Peine church or churches where Burkhard had been.
While I was a single missionary, green behind the ears, I taught with Burkhard a home Bible study that later became the Hildesheim church. Burkhard was the first one we told that we had got engaged and he read 1.Cor. 13 in German at our wedding. He also graduated from Ozark Christian College after seeing the need for more Bible knowledge; He left his good job as an engineer to do that.
We and the church will miss him.

October

To help with community the men of the church went for a hike in the Harz Mountains. One man has been struggling with depression and God all year came. It was good just to be with him even if it did start a little distant and tense. We men had a great time just being in the nature, safe with social distancing, and a sense of community.
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September

Technology You can’t live without it and you can’t live with it.
On Sundays we have services in the building but also use Zoom. Name a problem and we have had it, computer died, internet is instable, feedback, mic and camera won’t work with back up computer, things go out. Slowly we are solving every problem. One week everything worked perfectly – but no one joined us on Zoom.

July

We are still having dual services with Live and Zoom audiences. Slowly, we are getting used to it. Humming not singing can also sound good. Attendance has been good with near capacity the last two weeks.

June

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We started church services in the building again. About half our regulars come to the building and the other half come on Zoom. We have three songs as videos or piano with the words to hum along with; the government does not want singing in churches right now.
After the songs others can log in with Zoom and they can see us and we can see them (using a projector). We have a sharing and prayer time and communion all together as a church. I have now started preaching again and so sometimes the Zoom people can watch the sermon but it has not always worked.
Afterwards we used to have coffee, tea and cookies but now we are supposed to leave the building and break up the party. Even without the coffee and tea people stand around in the front court yard and talk. You can see what an important role the church plays for healthy and needed social contact.

So what do our services look like? People come in with masks. When they get to their seats they can take their masks off. We have the doors propped open so no one has to touch the handles. We also have a disinfectant dispenser at the door.
We have chairs grouped for singles, couples, or families. The groups are 1.5 meter (5 feet) apart. With the distancing we can have a maximum of 22 in the building.
Each group has a little stand/table with the communion for that group. That way no one has to move to pass communion or to stand up to receive it. Communion is prepared in advance by someone with mask.
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We have one camera on the pulpit and one camera facing the congregation. That way the people on Zoom can also hear and see all/most of the people in the building.
There is Sunday School during the sermon but right now only one family is attending at the building so that is not a problem. The mother is doing the teaching.
We continue to take turns leading the service, communion meditation, and sermon. When someone moves from his/her seat the mask is put on. At the pulpit no mask is worn but the pulpit is more than 2 meters (over 6 feet) from the first seating.
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We leave all the windows open for the entire service. When it rains or gets colder we will have to start airing with all windows open every 30-45 minutes. The windows will then have to open for at least 10 minutes.
Another requirement for us to open back up was to have a hygiene plan printed out and hung for all to see.

May

We are hoping to start Sunday services tomorrow. Some people would prefer to continue using Zoom to meet. So we have that to consider along with all the regulations that we have to meet. Things seem to change every week or day.
The Adult Education Center had been renting our room for German classes but the room is not big enough now for the new regulations so that will change for us. For the church that means less income and a financial set back.

April End

Technology has become vitally important for the church. Every week it seems like a new problem arises with it. It seems to be faltering just when we need it for church or Bible study. One woman gave up Wednesday in frustration and she really needed the community.
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No word as of yet when churches will be allowed to meet. The scuttlebutt is that with Ramadan starting they want to keep the celebrations, meetings, mosques closed so they will keep the churches closed as well.

April

Dagmar, a woman in the church, called yesterday and said she has started sewing masked and asked we wanted some. They do not keep us safe but keeps others safe from us (or someone else if they have it and are wearing a mask.)

Kirstin, another woman in the church, has also started sewing masks and sharing them with whomever might need them.

Toilet paper is gone off the shelves. People in the church have started giving rolls to those in need.

March

It is forbidden for churches to have services. All church activities are cancelled.

The church is doing fine in spite of Corona. We are meeting on Sundays at the normal time using Zoom. It is a type of conference call in which we can see and hear all present.

The elders decided what was missing in this crisis is a sense of community. So our time together is not with singing and a sermon but interactive. We spend time sharing how we are doing, prayer requests, open prayer time and communion. Tonight we will start meeting also for Bible study.

Our understanding of “Church” is not passively sitting next to strangers while a show is taking place on the stage but according to Hebrews 10:24-25 we should be interacting with each other and everyone should be involved in building the church up.
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Thus, the emphasis on community. We figure a sermon or music is something everyone can find on the internet but community is not.
Pict: Zoom Bible study and prayer.