COVID-19: Creative Community Connections
By Cynthia Wilson
Searching for ways to maintain the spirit of unity among members of your worshiping community, family members, neighbors, work colleagues, and others? Here are a few exciting ideas shared by constituents across our United Methodist connectional system.
Holy Week Ideas
- Car palm parade (if it can be done safely) using any plant at home, an online cutout; or trace the palms of your hands and make a palm branch (idea from church planter, Stacey Piyakhun, in North Texas).
- Palm Sunday/Holy Week at-home stations (template provided).
- Palm protest in cars, putting signs in front of the church or online (idea from church planter, Susan Chupungo in NY—related to Hosanna, meaning “save us.” Write down what you need to be saved from this Palm Sunday—unemployment, illness, isolation, and so on).
- Virtual choirs or Zoom room choir for social media
- I give you a new commandment: Show love to your community for Maundy Thursday.
- Send pizza to first responders or hospitals.
- Put flowers or hearts on the windows of nursing homes.
- Buy gift cards from local businesses to give to hospital staff.
- Buy groceries for neighbors who are immuno-compromised.
- Buy gifts/supplies for daycares staying open to care for children of essential personnel.
- Bring cars to a hospital parking lot and flash your headlights, sing, or clap during a staff change.
- Post your acts of service to social media with a hashtag of the church and #loveoneanother #byourlove. If possible, have the church compile all the stories, pictures, and videos into a Maundy Thursday video that’s posted on social media or send them to a local news station or newspaper:
- Two options for stations at home – one for individuals and one for families by Rev. Rachel Wallace, church planter in Kentucky:
- Have participants Zoom their reactions together if you want more corporate worship; offer some type of agape meal or love feast.
- Create a foot-washing liturgy for families to do at home, adapting the Maundy Thursday service from Discipleship Ministries worship page (March 2011).
- Buildfaith.org has a “stripping the table” at-home service. The benefit is that you can put it back up on Easter Sunday to help the family see that it’s Easter (suggested by Breanna Illene, church planter in Wisconsin).
- With permission from local officials, put a cross somewhere in the community to symbolize the pain and loss that the community is feeling (local park, playground, in front of a school or shopping center). Encourage people to stop by throughout the day—practicing social distancing—to pray or lay a flower there. People can post their reactions on social media and use your church hashtag and #GoodFriday2020.
- Good Friday monologues could be read and live-streamed or on Zoom with people posting their reactions or participating at home. Click to read more.
- Churches like Sycamore Creek in Michigan have already considered adjusting the time of worship on Easter Sunday for the live stream. If you live-stream on Sunday mornings, you may want to consider changing the time due to technical difficulties that may arise from so many churches doing live streams at the same time.
- Join the Quarantined Easter Celebration Facebook page (1,000 new members each day). Participants will sing “Christ is Risen” at 8 a.m. Easter Sunday.
- Have people post family pictures in their Easter best (either pajamas or dresses and suits). A pastor in North Texas is having the kids at his church print off and decorate an Easter bonnet and take pictures in it to share with other families at the church.
- Have everyone print off Easter eggs or Sparkhouse’s “flat Jesus” and put them up on their doors, so that neighbors can go on an Easter Sunday walk and find Jesus around the neighborhood. A downloadable “flat Jesus” and other Easter at-home family activities can be found here.
- Have people post signs of life or hope and use one common hashtag on Instagram or Facebook; then combine them into a video or album on your church Facebook page.
- Have people write a note to God about how they feel this Easter and send it to the church. Mail the letters back to people later this year (perhaps when the shelter-in-place season ends or at the start of 2021 Advent or Lent).
- Encourage families to participate in "Stations of the Cross at Home."
- A church plant in the Dakotas Annual Conference is doing a drive-by Easter stations of the cross on Easter Sunday.
- An at-home egg hunt from Discipleship Ministries may be found here.
- Holston Conference has a great video on the best low-tech practices.
- If you want an engaging streaming platform, consider Switcher Studio (recommended by a pastor in Chicago).
- StreamYard.com allows you to throw Facebook comments into the feed in real time.
- St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas, offers an example of how various musicians can record and have lyrics.
- Canva.com is a design resource.
- Do not use a church’s or a home’s Wi-Fi. Use a USB-to-ethernet adaptor and plug it into a laptop, so you have a steady stream of internet without dropping the signal.
- Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) recommended by Brendan Galvin, church planter and pastor in New Jersey.
- This video tells you how to set up OBS and the equipment you need.
- Streaming Platform suggestions:
- How to: Recording Facebook Live to YouTube or Vimeo.
- Crowdcast is a great resource for Sunday mornings, prayer times, or Bible studies with large groups of people.
Created by Discipleship Ministries Path 1 and Worship Resources Ministries