Yes, we just celebrated the 45th anniversary of our TV Ministry — now called Media Ministries —and four and a half decades of bringing worship to people beyond our walls. Week in and week out, worshippers can join online us for The Gathering at 9:30 am, Sanctuary Worship at 11:00 am, and eleven;eleven at 11:11 am. And, if they miss a service, want to view it or hear it again, or even to check out what the other service styles are like, people can go to our FUMCFW Media Archives for videos, podcasts, and even playlists of our music performances.
None of that has changed . . . however, this quiet little ministry has suddenly garnered the limelight and has become church for our entire congregation. With a touch of extra explanation from The Mikester, online worshippers have now learned how to find the service they’re looking for (and even how to download the worship bulleting including a special one for the kids), how to register their attendance, how to make their offering online during worship, how to make a prayer request, and even how to make notes during the service and email them to themselves when its over!
And our church family has responded.
Attendance numbers have soared with sign-ins—and those are the people who actually registered their attendance; many of course did not! Many of these single sign-ins had multiple viewers, and even so, we recorded 1400 total in our online worship services last Sunday. “Both Sundays, Lance and I have just looked at each other and said, ‘this is amazing!’” relates Dr. Tim Bruster, Senior Pastor, “Even though this is new technology for lots of people, our attendance is really strong.”
“The first Sunday after the closure was the first Sunday after the 45th anniversary of our TV ministry,” he adds. “What a way to celebrate that! I’m just so grateful for these volunteers and this ministry, now led by Barry Hudson, that has done so much for our church over the past 45 years.”
New Gifts, New Givers!
A hearty First Church shout-out to all who have begun using our online giving button during worship to make your offering just as if you were here. According to Nancy Fisher, Director of Stewardship, this past week we actually had more than 40 new givers make their offering that way. “Because of you, our ministries can keep going, and even growing in this time as more and more people are finding their way to our church online!”
Steve Fagan, FUMCFW Director of Finance agrees that this online giving mechanism has been a nice surprise in this time of “social distancing.” Saying that online offerings for the past two Sundays has been much better than expected, Steve adds, “Online giving is perfect for this time of Social Distancing because no human hand has to touch the contributions” Steve adds.
“The Business Office is still having a small crew come in to handle mail deposits once a week because our back-office support of our ministries is deemed essential.” Steve says that our business office team will know more once they finish processing these new gifts and givers, but for now this is a bright spot in the gloomy forecasts some would offer.
“We’re having a lot of people make online gifts on weekdays,” he adds, “That’s gratifying because it means people are thinking about their church during the week and responding to new online things like Lance’s daily devotional and the installments of Mister Mark’s Together Time.”
Of course, he adds, “This does not mean we’re getting the Sunday offerings we’d normally get, but I am encouraged by the rapid increase in offerings coming in online and from new online worshipers and online givers each week.”
“I think people are really aware of this need and are doing a little extra to help,” reflects Nancy Fisher, Director of Stewardship.” Recognizing that although the in-person offerings such as our “dollar bill collection” and Easter Offering are suffering a little bit, she says that we’re continuing to keep these ministries supported by these specific offerings lifted up and encouraging people to remember to make those gifts as well.”