Clergy Work Together on Online Worship

Clergy Work Together on Online Worship

The 6 Pastor Collaboration:
Rev. Dr. Doug Cederburg - Pilgrim United Church of Christ in New Bedford
Rev. Dr. Virginia Child -  First Congregational Church in Wareham
Rev. Emily Johnson Kellar - The Congregational Church of South Dartmouth, UCC.
Rev. Dr. Amy Lignitz- Harken  -  Mattapoisett Congregational Church, UCC
Rev. Bette McClure  - First Congregational Church in Fairhaven
Rev. MaryAnn Purtill  -  the First Congregational of Marion.
Six UCC churches along the Massachusetts shoreline of Buzzards Bay worked together in May to produce an online Pentecost worship. The collaboration came during the exhaustion of the Covid-19 pandemic, but created an energy that continues for these churches.
The six church pastors began meeting online in March as a way to connect, reflect on the current situations, and share experiences and ideas. During one of these meetings, Rev. Dr. Amy Lignitz- Harken, pastor of Mattapoisett Congregational Church, suggested that the group try to produce a joint online worship. She volunteered to edit the videos.
The 6 pastors agreed and began planning immediately, creating a theme for the service and a liturgy. By the end of the meeting, each pastor had an assigned role and the work began. Pastors recorded their portion of the worship on phones, tablets, or computers and sent them to Lignitz-Harken through text messages, email, or DropBox. She then spent time editing the pieces together using Apple's iMovie software, which Lignitz -Harken says she learned using YouTube tutorial videos.
The final video was ready by Thursday, giving each pastor time to adapt their specific use of the video to match their individual church. The churches are close in geography, but have very diverse congregations. Each had their own way of addressing an offering for the service and several also address the George Floyd tragedy that had occurred the previous Monday.
The 6 pastors met the following Monday and we very happy with the outcome. According to Rev. Emily Johnson Kellar, the feedback from those who viewed the worship was very positive. They all seemed pleased to see the pastors work together on the service. Lignitz -Harken says the collaboration lifted a burden for the 6 pastors but cautions that those using online worship must consider the experience of the parishioners carefully.
"The biggest thing to remember is creating a worship service and a liturgical experience where people can connect with God and each other, "said Lignitz-Harken. "The goal is still the same: to create a worshipful experience."
Kellar says she thinks the online worship is something that will endure. She says the group will consider another joint project but she is also looking ahead at the future of her church's worship and how online worship can reach people who have not been active or cannot attend in-person services. Her church has a team exploring what this will look like in the future.
Online collaboration is happening elsewhere in the Southern New England Conference as well. In Connecticut, Rev. Denise Clapsaddle, Interim Pastor at the First congregational Church of Plymouth, and Rev. Zachary Mabe, Pastor of the Terryville Congregational Church, have worked together for several years on joint projects, including fundraisers, fellowship events, and joint worship services. Since the pandemic closures began, they have worked together on at least two worship projects and are planning an online Vacation Bible School together.


Drew Page

Drew Page is the Media and Data Manager for the Southern New England Conference, and a member of the Conference's Communications Team. He writes and edits news, blogs, and devotionals, produces video, and spends a week each summer as a Dean at Silver...

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