The vaccine distribution in the United States has begun. I have not heard about distributions in other parts of the world except for England. This is a sign of hope that the pandemic may soon come to an end. It is very hopeful that the most vulnerable among us, the elderly and the poor will be protected.
A group of clergy have been gathering in the United States during the pandemic. They began meeting over a year ago and called themselves “The Development Group.” They were tasked by the American Primate’s Council to help churches work on evangelism, church growth, and mission among the local communities. However, shortly after the meeting began, the pandemic and lockdowns started.
The direction of the group dramatically changed and they began to focus on how to continue ministry to our congregations. This opened up a whole new world of live-streaming. After churches began at the level of simple Facebook live streams of Sunday morning worship using iPhones, they realized that hundreds of people were visiting their Livestream broadcasts. Using this information, many began to expand their ministry through social media and other avenues in the digital world.
Why do churches need to be online?
Several have been very successful in reaching out and creating an online presence. Bishop Elmer Belmonte has a daily program of morning prayer with a meditation, which he often does. Additionally, others have shared their worship practices during the broadcast. On some occasions, a thousand people have joined Bishop from around the world for prayer. I often attend and it is fantastic!
Fr. Brett Crompton and the Cathedral of the Intercessor have created an online campus. Not only are weekend Eucharists broadcast, every ministry of the Church, from small groups to teaching programs are available through the campus via Zoom. Their website is now very interactive. This has enabled people who live hundreds if not thousands of miles from the Cathedral to take part in the ministry.
There are many other churches I could mention. I have had a great time visiting the sites and hearing all the great teaching and preaching from all over the United States and the world. I get to hear at least three sermons every Sunday. Further, there are some great mid-week teachings. I even have a daily Livestream reflection on Facebook which is now at 9 a.m. EST Monday through Saturday.
We will survive the pandemic. We will come out of it with a celebration and thanksgiving. Our Bishops and various groups, like the Development Group in the United States, are working on plans to open up our Churches. We are working on a national Convocation in July 2021. But more than that they are working on plans to mission or remission our churches so that we have a more effective Christ-centered impact in our communities. Our call is still the Great Commission.
I believe in the mission of the CEC. From the very beginning we knew that convergence worship was more than just a way of expressing our love for God on Sunday morning. Convergence was a path to connect not only with the ancient and historic, but to bring together the various streams or expressions of Christianity. I continue to believe that the CEC can be a visible image of what unity in the Body of Christ looks like.
There is much to be done, but if we rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit in consensus, it will be made clear to us. It is being made clear to the next generation of leaders in our communion. My prayer for the last year has been that we do more than survive the pandemic. That we should come out not with survival but revival.
Please continue in prayer. Someone said, “Prayer is not preparation for the battle, prayer is the battle.”
Under His mercy,
+Craig W. Bates,