Author Topic: Staying in Touch; Managing Christmas Services  (Read 1434 times)

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Staying in Touch; Managing Christmas Services
« on: December 13, 2020, 06:51:18 AM »
Yesterday, a number of us went caroling at the homes of Sunday School families while delivering Christmas treats to the children. This week, we will share some Christmas cheer with neighborhood children who have attended our past events.

I wonder what other activities and methods church workers and congregations are using to stay in touch with members and neighbors during this Christmas season. Please share.

P.s.-The fall/winter rise in covid cases caused a dip in our attendance. However, it has sprang back. Last Sunday was the best attendance we've had, matching the number for a week in September. I doubt we will have a crowd on Christmas but we are taking steps to ensure social distancing for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
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D. Engebretson

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Re: Staying in Touch; Managing Christmas Services
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2020, 09:10:52 AM »
I serve a mid-sized rural congregation, so unlike a more 'urban' environment we don't have the typical neighborhood for caroling.  Years ago our choir would do this by assembling a car caravan and driving to the homes of various shut-ins, ending at the local nursing home.  This year I have buried most of my shut-ins (not all COVID), and the nursing home is locked down with a more recent uptick in COVID cases in our our county. Our choir has neither assembled or sung during the pandemic.

Our attendance showed a surprising increase around the Thanksgiving holiday week.  Even last Sunday we had to prepare additional elements for the Sacrament when we realized the altar guild did not set out enough.  I think the holiday season is moving some to come in greater numbers.  Also, now that the virus has made a pass through out area we have a number of people who were infected and recovered and seem to lack that initial fear they had prior to the infection. 

We continue to follow the same adapted CDC guidelines put in place when our 'stay-at-home' orders were lifted: every other pew taped off, masks worn (with extras provided for those who forget), hand sanitizer, etc.

My goal from the beginning has been modest: keep the church open for those who wish to attend in person services while maintaining a consistent live streamed option. Many things have been 'scrubbed' during the pandemic, among which is the beloved children's program, not to mention the annual Christmas parties of the various groups.  We will have Christmas services with the Sacrament; however, we will have the same service this year split between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to encourage social distancing so we don't bunch up on one day. 
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Charles Austin

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Re: Staying in Touch; Managing Christmas Services
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2020, 01:43:53 PM »
I encourage anyone who wants an example of how a televised liturgy could and should be done to visit the website of the Washington national cathedral. I think it stays online for a while. But it is a good example of decent liturgy and good use of music and good use of the televised media.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Back home from Sioux City after three days and a pleasant reunion of the East High School class of - can you believe it! - 1959.

Randy Bosch

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Re: Staying in Touch; Managing Christmas Services
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2020, 02:40:49 PM »
Every congregation, from the most humble to those more endowed, has the gifts and talents to prepare and present for the congregation's involvement and benefit a Christmas-tide of services of Word, Sacrament and Music that uplift the spirit and share the Word and Joy of Christmas with families and with those who are "only" guests or very sporadic attendees.
Music is one of the great gifts to the Church, when it proclaims the Word.  Here is a link to this year's Christmas Concert from our former, long-time parish, where music has always been seen a key element of worship, prayerfully supported, and a blessing to share with those anywhere on earth:

https://eur05.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DepiM7Y43cHo&data=04%7C01%7C%7C5dc3666bd29e44944b6f08d89f8ee56d%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637434783373761035%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=MmcxlmbkqDMT2aHaM90yIeV12Edr864Yt8Ps9n%2BrqiA%3D&reserved=0

In this season of pandemic and political reaction good and bad, this was produced with great care, multiple sessions separating choir members, orchestra members (no brass or woodwinds!), and bell choir, for presentation on-line, with virtual attendance.  This is a congregation production, St. John's Lutheran Church of Orange, California. We were blessed to be able to sing in this choir for several decades, and pray that you will be blessed by the sharing.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2020, 03:17:14 PM by Randy Bosch »

Jeremy_Loesch

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Re: Staying in Touch; Managing Christmas Services
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2020, 03:59:57 PM »
We are preparing a worship kit for our members who know they will be worshiping online. The kit will include the bulletin, a candle, cocoa packets, a devotion for the 12 days of Christmas. This will also go to others that are suggested to us.

One of our musicians is going to record 30 minutes of Christmas piano music. The camera will focus on our chancel area while she plays. We may loop it several times. It will be shared on our Facebook and YouTube pages.

Those are things we are doing/planning this year.

Jeremy

Norman Teigen

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Re: Staying in Touch; Managing Christmas Services
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2020, 04:15:10 PM »
My church, Normandale Lutheran Church, Edina MN has not held worship services in the sanctuary since March.  The services are on You Tube and I invite all to tune in. The services are very nicely done.  Wednesday Advent Vespers are at 7 pm.  Today,  Advent 3,  was the Children's Christmas Service.  I also watch the Duke University Chapel service on YouTube  after Normandale.  I feel  privileged to have had good preaching during the Covid-19 year. 
Norman Teigen

Dave Benke

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Re: Staying in Touch; Managing Christmas Services
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2020, 05:38:54 PM »
I encourage anyone who wants an example of how a televised liturgy could and should be done to visit the website of the Washington national cathedral. I think it stays online for a while. But it is a good example of decent liturgy and good use of music and good use of the televised media.

Thanks for this, Charles.  I find, as I check the new viewing habits of members and other Lutherans, that our folks are checking in at all kinds of services, including (of course) those of their own church home and faith tradition.  The Washington Cathedral would no doubt be at the high end of proficiency in tech and in performance of liturgy. 

This is worth conversation because there are changes happening across the board in this brave new world.  And I think this has to do with chunks of the Lutheran membership who are older, which is a large percentage.  They are the folks who would be first on line for in-person, but haven't been able to or haven't wanted to.  And so if the small(er) congregation didn't have that option, or became sporadic in communication, a whole world of options became available, not only for a week or two, but for months on end.  At the end of this, I think many will choose to keep on watching/listening participating in these new forums, including during week studies or prayer services. 

What does this mean?  Are they now heterodox because they heard a woman speak, or heard a new song or a new way of being together?  I think it's worth exploring with folks on the basic question - how are we at St. John Gaspump meeting your spiritual needs, and how have you been getting them met in other ways?  The basic one is in the home, of course.  But there's more to it than that.  And it would be a major stumble not to have that honest conversation.

Dave Benke


Dave Benke

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Re: Staying in Touch; Managing Christmas Services
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2020, 06:29:01 PM »
We are preparing a worship kit for our members who know they will be worshiping online. The kit will include the bulletin, a candle, cocoa packets, a devotion for the 12 days of Christmas. This will also go to others that are suggested to us.

One of our musicians is going to record 30 minutes of Christmas piano music. The camera will focus on our chancel area while she plays. We may loop it several times. It will be shared on our Facebook and YouTube pages.

Those are things we are doing/planning this year.

Jeremy

I like both the worship kit and the music loop, Jeremy!  I'm going to promote one of those ideas right away - we have a bunch of Christmas music in the warmer rhythms of the Caribbean, and they can be bundled and put together on their own or with readings and made available.  Thanks!

One of our Atlantic District congregations made and distributed Advent boxes for 250 families.  I saw one, really excellent and absolutely fully equipped with worship, singing, activity and family tools.  I made the mistake of asking the cost.  $70.  Per box.  So over $15000.  Slightly over our budget.

We will be sending Three Kings gifts to kids/families, after the kids do a Three Kings drama.  Something nice, just under the $70 limit by maybe $60.

And we're doing a 15 second online VidHug, with our Deaconess organizing it.  Then we'll make a VidHug online wreath.  We are a very big in-person hug group, so this is the best alternative we have at the moment for Christmas fellowship. 

We have Zoom live Sunday School drama next Sunday on our website/Facebook/You Tube feeds, with our teaching professionals coordinating it - thank goodness.  So one of the shepherds unmutes the other night and offers "Miss Natasha, Zoom is not the best way to produce our drama.  We should be using Google Meets, it's a better platform and you can hear people more clearly."  The kid is 6. 

You will note that whatever we're doing except the sermon, the prayers and the consecration of the Eucharist, is people who have some skill with not-in-person communication.  Stay in your lane, is my advice to me.

Dave Benke

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Staying in Touch; Managing Christmas Services
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2020, 10:20:27 PM »
The Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in York, PA will be streaming all of the Nativity services, which will also be open and available for those who wish to attend in person:

https://video.ibm.com/channel/v8GYFuyKMqZ

December 24

8:00 AM EST Royal Hours of the Nativity
6:00 PM EST Vesperal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil

December 25

8:00 AM EST Orthros & Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

There is a ten-service archive on the live stream page so today's Orthros & Liturgy for the Sunday of the Forefathers is currently viewable.


Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
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Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015