Methodist Church Shares TV Broadcast with Sister Churches During Coronavirus
By Lindsay Peyton
Coronavirus did not thwart plans at Trinity UMC in Beaumont to keep its congregation connected. Senior pastor Rev. Tommy Williams explains that his church has worshiped live for decades, appearing on KFDM TV Channel 6 every Sunday morning. Now, the congregation is welcoming guest pastors from sister churches to join the broadcast, so they can reach out to their congregants as well.
Trinity UMC Beaumont is in a unique position, Williams explained. “Trinity has been on TV for about 30 years,” he said. “We’re live every Sunday, and it has a really wide reach.”
The church also broadcasts the sermon on Facebook Live. “We reach 3,000 viewers on an average Sunday,” Williams said. “We’re confident that we’re well over that number right now.”
When the COVID19 pandemic closed the church campus, Williams was able to point congregants to their television screens and Facebook accounts. Through Zoom video conferencing, Trinity made youth gatherings and confirmation classes available. There are also video Bible studies and Sunday school lessons on the church’s website.
Neighboring Methodist churches, however, were struggling to reach members. Several did not have the technical requirements and ability to continue their services and operations.
“A lot of our smaller, sister churches are telling their members to stay safe at home and watch us on TV,” Williams said. “So, we decided to invite area pastors of sister churches to join us. That way, the people watching on TV can see their pastors on Sunday mornings.”
Already, Rev. Amanda Davis at Woodville UMC and Rev. Christie Hale at Faith UMC have shared the stage with Trinity for Sunday broadcasts. “We plan to keep doing it on a rotating basis,” Williams said.
The pastors have expressed their gratitude for the opportunity, and Williams said the church enjoys hosting their guests as well. “It’s so nice to get to see and talk to our sister and brother clergy,” he explained. “It’s a great way to highlight the connection we have.”
While preparing the show, the crew sticks to strict social distancing guidelines. “There are about eight folks who gather – far apart from each other,” Williams said.
By working with other area churches, he hopes Trinity will send a message that collaboration is especially important during a time of crisis.
“Find creative ways to link up with other churches in this season, in whatever ways that might be,” he suggests. “And take some pressure off trying to do something big. People appreciate just a 10-minute video on a cell phone from their pastors.”
This is a time, when productions do not have to be perfect, Williams said. Instead, congregants are looking for ways to get together and continue to worship.
“This is a time, when we’re reminded that the body of Christ is larger than the people we see on any given Sunday, bigger than what you can see with your own eyes,” he said. “The body of Christ transcends time and place.”
Williams also reminds congregants that this is not the first time that Christians have had to be creative during duress – and to hold on to hope. “Christians for centuries have weathered natural disasters, plagues and persecution,” he said. “This is the latest struggle for us to still gather and worship.”
For more information about Trinity UMC, visit trinityumcbeaumont.org.