May 2020

Preaching to a camera:

Clergy adapt to COVID-19 restrictions

Originally published by The Red & Black: original story here

Written and photographed by Taylor Gerlach

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With mounting restrictions on mass gatherings due to COVID-19, Georgia's churches have had to change the way they meet each week, and some have found unexpected benefits of technology they plan to keep. 

 

Winterville First Baptist Church live streams their worship and message to Facebook and YouTube and will continue to do so when they begin a phased reopening in June for those who are uncomfortable going in public spaces. 

On Sunday, May 24, Pastor Phil Wages delivered a message on the book of Ruth to a room of nearly empty pews. His family and select staff necessary for leading worship and operating new pieces of technology are the only ones in attendance.

 

Wages said preaching to a camera is very different than what he's used to, as he doesn't have the audience feedback and connection that he normally would with a room brimming with churchgoers.

Wages hasn't stood before his congregation since the church stopped meeting in person and switched to live streamed services on April 5. 

Bryan Hawkins, minister of worship and connection at Winterville First Baptist Church, stood as a sole voice on stage leading worship. Even without his typical companions and choir, Hawkins said he is comfortable in front of the camera live streaming worship music to Facebook and YouTube.

Before the service starts, Pastor Wages talks with family and close friends in the pews as audio and video equipment is tested.  

Bryan Hawkins, minister of worship and connection at Winterville First Baptist Church, stood as a sole voice on stage leading worship. Even without his typical companions and choir, Hawkins said he is comfortable in front of the camera live streaming worship music to Facebook and YouTube.

Before the service starts, Pastor Wages talks with family and close friends in the pews as audio and video equipment is tested.  

Above rows of empty pews, Tim Bramlett operated the soundboard and video equipment from the balcony. The church used to upload audio files to their website each week, but they have expanded to produce live streamed services each week.

Winterville First Baptist Church had to pivot quickly, but with the new infrastructure in place, they plan to continue live streaming their services after a soft reopening planned for June. 

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