In 2020, both Bishop and Trustees and Bishop Lee made pools of emergency funding available to congregations adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic.
St. Ann’s, Woodstock and Good Shepherd, Macomb both received emergency grants to upgrade their worship technology. While their projects were initially intended to help reach church members during lockdowns, the investments are continuing to bear fruit even as restrictions are lifted and the congregations are gathering in-person once again.
When Dave Chwalisz, a St. Ann’s member with a background in computer programming, began managing live worship from the church building, he soon realized that upgrades were needed. “You would get halfway into the service and video or sound would stop,” Chwalisz says. “One of the things we did with the grant was to get some prosumer switching equipment.”
With the new equipment, the congregation can now offer consistent, high-quality live streaming, which will continue after the pandemic.
“We have some older folks or ones who have conditions … they’ll probably never come back in-person,” Chwalisz says. “Some of them could barely make it here, or had issues come up over the pandemic and now are not able to get out of the house. Now they have an option—they can watch the service. We’ve also heard from people who go away for the winter or are traveling or are ex-parishioners who will look us up and watch the service. It’s nice to be able to keep in touch with people that way.”
Good Shepherd, Macomb used an emergency grant to purchase a new, upgraded computer and keyboard that made it possible for the congregation to post worship and music online during lockdowns. Now that the congregation is worshipping in-person again, the new equipment is used to record sermons that can be posted online. The sermon audio is also broadcast each week on the local radio station, WTND. “So it’s nice; it goes on the radio, it goes on our website, it goes on Facebook,” the Rev. Paula Englehorn, Good Shepherd’s vicar, says.
“We are reaching more people. I like that idea,” Englehorn says. “Almost everyone has come back and I don’t think we lost anybody during the pandemic.”