Audrey Duvall, seven years old, reading scripture.

We changed our method but are still true to who we are

By Sam Coates
Associate Pastor
Pelham Road Baptist Church, Greenville, SC

Church administrator Angela Sudermann became a videographer.

Overnight church changed. Our administrator, Angela, became a videographer. Our minister of music, Sam, became the pianist and sound engineer. Our pastor, John, is preaching to an empty sanctuary. Church was moved to social media and our cell phones. Everything changed.

Pelham Road Baptist Church has always worshiped and served together as a congregation. Extravagant welcome and service outside in our community has been our signature. Now we are quickly having to creatively discover new ways to be church together.

When social distancing became required practice, our church staff met 6 feet apart to determine immediate needs and changes. We decided our immediate need was to check on our Senior Adults—the old-fashioned way, phone calls. These first phone calls were short but have become longer conversations since. One of the gifts of ministry these days is one-on-one conversations with people.

John Roy, pastor at Pelham Road, gets ready to preach in an empty sanctuary.

Worship was also a concern. We knew we didn’t have the skill set to live stream worship, so instead we video our services and put them on YouTube on Tuesday mornings to show on Sundays. The format is simple. It’s not slick and the blooper reels will one day be hilarious, but for us it is authentic. We have Evening Song on Sunday nights with just Scripture and soft piano music from our pianist and others.

Getting ready for Sunday.

Ministry during the week

Our staff determined the following daily ways we would use social media to reach our congregation (Facebook, website, OnRealm, Instagram).

Every morning/every evening

Every morning John videos “Good Morning Pelham Road” for a time of humor, inspiration and his “commercial of the day.” Every evening Sam reads or recruits someone to read a Bible Story for our children.

Miss You Monday

John sends out his “Barnabas Notes” to encourage the congregation and give us updates like Stewardship reports and congregational concerns. A coloring sheet is sent out for the kids to enjoy.

Tuesday Tunes

Our adults and children send in music videos to be posted to Facebook.

Wednesdays are for Kids

Our children’s Wednesday night teacher, Eden Springer, posts a Bible Study for the kids and they send her their art work to be posted. John sends out a Bible Study that can be downloaded.

Pelham Road website

Theological Thursdays

Theological Thursdays features a video discussion between our John and Ashley, our associate who happens to be a Lutheran minister. Their first topic was “Does God send disease or does it just come?”

Funny Fridays

Funny Fridays are Just a fun way for our congregation to post about what’s going on in their families together. The first post asked everyone to describe a family member or pet in terms of “co-worker.”

Jonathan Duvall recording special music for a Sunday service.

Still reaching out

We are doing our best to reach out to our families by emails, phone calls, and Zoom conversations. We are continuing to help feed the homeless by providing Triune Mercy Center with Bag Lunches purchased through local restaurants to support these businesses as well. Last week we had a canned food drive to support Greer Relief. Reaching out to the community will take new creative efforts as needs deepen.

We could have won a million

We could have won a million dollars for the church (from Americas Funniest Videos TV show) had we videoed our first late night Zoom meeting as a staff. We are getting to be pros at that now.

We receive such kind comments and encouragement from our church community and beyond as people share our videos. Our deacons, prayer teams, Sunday School teachers, and individuals are reaching out to our congregation and community. Reaching out to senior adults, single parents, people living alone and folk in nursing facilities is paramount.

Proof the church is not the building

We have always known that the church was not the building. We are proving that daily. We have always known that the church ministry was not just what we do on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights. Ministry continues and has been heightened. Jesus words “where two or three are gathered” are becoming even more real. Our staff is honored to continue serving together, but we grieve having to do ministry in an empty building and sanctuary.

Deep conversations about how to do and be church will continue to morph as we are quarantined for another month or more and as the death and sickness numbers rise. Every number is a person, a family, a story, a beloved child of God and we weep with the world.

Easter is coming yet

We have decided that what ever Sunday we return will be EASTER SUNDAY for us. Because out of death always comes life, and we will have so much to celebrate.

John Roy, Pastor
Sam Coates, Associate Pastor and Minister of Music
Ashley Twitchell, Development Pastor
Angela Sudermann, Administrator

What to Expect at PRBC during COVID 19. Link takes you to the Pelham Road website where you can see a video that John, Sam, and Ashley made to tell the church what to expect during Covid-19 and learn more about how Pelham Road is doing ministry during these days.