By: Allie Crumpton
As Trevecca students return home, local churches all over the United States are finding unique ways to connect with their congregation during a time of mandated quarantine because of the novel coronavirus.
“We act in these ways not out of fear that we might get the virus but out of love for those who might get the virus and not be able to fight it off well,” said Erik Gernand, Trevecca chaplain.
Many Trevecca students’ local churches have taken innovative approaches to continue their ministry.
A popular local church for Trevecca students, Kaleo Nashville, used a Zoom call on March 29 to take communion over video.
“Everyone either found a piece of bread, or a cracker, or someone even had an animal cracker to do this eucharist across the way,” said Noah Starr, a regular participant at Kaleo and Trevecca Student.
Emily Haynes ,Kaleo’s co-pastor, said the congregation takes communion every week and will continue to do so.
“We’re trying to cultivate this empathy that transcends distance. This is the stretching of the imagination that allows us to participate in the Eucharist though we are on video,” said Haynes.
Trevecca Community Church is one of many local churches offering live online services while continuing to find ways to serve the congregation’s physical needs.
“We are emphasizing presence over perfection and connection over content. In other words, we are offering services for people to watch, but putting a lot more of our efforts into trying to serve and connect with neighbors,” said Timothy Gaines, associate pastor at TCC and associate professor at Trevecca.
Trevecca Community Church has been working with Trevecca Towers by meeting needs for food and other necessary supplies. They also partner with KidPower, a kids ministry program at TCC, to connect vulnerable families with resources.
Kaleo has taken another unique approach in their Zoom sessions to check on each person in their congregation.
Starr says that it took at least two hours to hear how each of the 60 or so people were personally affected by the pandemic. It wasn’t until after this check-in time that they began their service.
For those whose previous church “rhythm” was Trevecca Chapel, Gernand is offering multiple online resources to keep students and others engaged.
“That’s been a big shift is not having three chapels a week. How do we provide spiritual life content to the community? So I’ve shifted into a rhythm of a couple videos a week so that the Trevecca Youtube channel is available and the podcast,” said Gernand.
Gernand will be putting out two short video devotionals a week in addition to a new video series called “How Christians Respond to Crisis.” During this series, he has multiple panel discussions lined up to hear the responses from mental health experts and bible/theology experts.