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Posted by on Mar 14, 2020 | 0 comments

Worship while Distancing

Soon after COVID-19 came to Vermont (week of 3/8/2020), many worship leaders I spoke with: 1) recognized how critically important worship is in a time like this, and 2) wondered how to worship together while keeping physically distant?

When my church chose to suspend services in our sanctuary on Sunday mornings for a time, we immediately looked to technology to allow us to worship while distancing.  Here’s what we planned:

  1. Our two pastors will hold a live-broadcast worship service on Sunday mornings at our regular time.  Zoom and facebook live were considered but Zoom was chosen because: a) worshipers don’t need an account, and b) worshipers can participate by computer/smartphone with video but also by telephone with audio only.  Login information and instructions were distributed by our website, email and signs on the doors of the church.
  2. Zoom conferencing allows us to record the service which we will also post to our website for anyone to view at anytime.
  3. In addition to our Sunday broadcast, while recognizing the need for isolated/quarantined people to connect, our two pastors decided to also offer a Wednesday morning prayer service.  A simple time for Scripture, prayer and connection.
  4. Set-up included: a) laptop with webcam in church sanctuary, 2) two chairs in front of altar with candles lit cross, etc. 3) our pastors were in robes like a normal Sunday and stayed seated in the chairs (to keep them from wandering out of frame).
  5. Below is a simple order of worship for our Sunday broadcast.

GATHERING MUSIC (our pianist will play softly as the service begins)

RINGING OF THE BELL

GREETING & WELCOME

SILENCE

MUSICAL MEDITATION (hymn sung by soloist)

CENTERING WORD – Romans 8:37-39

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (NRSV)

OPENING PRAYER

On this side of Eden, we grow restless and weary.  Wanting gardens, we get wilderness. Wanting strawberries and cream, we get unbuttered toast.  Wanting the promised land, we get COVID-19.  Wilderness Christ, help us to breath in hope and breathe out trust today.  Help us to stay connected to one another even though our rhythms and patterns of relating  have been temporarily disrupted.  Give us songs and silence, video and audio, to carry us through.  AMEN.

MUSICAL MEDITATION (hymn sung by soloist)

PASTORAL PRAYER & LORD’S PRAYER (time will be given for those at home to lift up their own prayer concerns)

RESPONSE (our usual prayer response sung by soloist)

CALL TO OFFERING (a reminder will be give of the ways to give to the church other than the collection plate)

DOXOLOGY (sung by soloist)

SCRIPTURE READING:   Exodus 17:1-7

MESSAGE (full sermon given)

SILENCE

CLOSING HYMN – (sung by soloist) – “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”

BENEDICTION

RESPONSE (our usual prayer response sung by soloist)


© Rev. Susan Cook Kittredge & Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen, 2020

Susan and Kevin are pastors of Charlotte Congregational Church, UCC in Charlotte VT.

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