How does a church stay connected in a time when we are asked to be apart physically? When you can’t see one another, how do you keep and build relationships? Wisconsin pastors have taken on that challenge and have come up with some great ways to stay connected during this time of physical separation.
The Milwaukee churches, with Pastors Sheldon Bryan, Myoung Kwon and Zachary Payne, are joining together on Facebook as “The Greater Milwaukee Adventist Fellowship” where they share livestream devotionals and Sabbath services which are also available on the Milwaukee Central YouTube Channel. “This group is for all Seventh-day Adventists in the greater Milwaukee area to share what’s going on at our various churches and ministries. Together, we can bring greater unity and fellowship by providing pictures, videos, event invitations, and by asking various questions that pertain to ministry in our area. Thank you for joining! We hope this group is a blessing to you! – Great Milwaukee Area Pastors.” This group now has more than 400 people who have joined to share in the online community.
Other churches are finding ways to stay in touch even with out an internet connection. Kenosha members have been able to dial in for a conference call on the topic of God’s Promises with lay pastor George Andrews. Pastor Michael Ehm is serving the LaCross District by making personal phone calls to church members as well as conducting Bible studies over the phone. He says, “As pastors, like a shepherd, we are called to tend to our Savior’s sheep, to bring care, comfort and peace. Many of our older church members who do not have social ties to the internet or even have the technology are alone in their homes feeling cut off from their church family. I have been busy calling up these members, talking with them, asking about their Sabbath worship experience, encouraging them and praying with them. In a few cases, I have provided Bible studies with some individuals who were feeling anxious in dealing with all that is going on and wondering about end time events. After studying and praying with them I was able to leave them with assurances that God is near to them and that He will never leave them.”
Rice Lake District Pastor John Redlich reports, “…in order to keep in touch and to meet the needs of members on Sabbath morning I am video recording a sermon every Friday morning and then uploading it onto YouTube. The URL will then be distributed to as many church members as possible so they can connect with me, their pastor, every Sabbath via online. We do not live stream. For those who do not get online, the sermon will be copied to DVD and mailed. I have invited the elders to also be involved by occasionally preparing a sermon and I would then video them. Included in the video presentation will be Scripture, prayer, and offering call. The video will be made available to all three churches.”
The Wausau District recently participated in a livestream panel discussion of the Sabbath School Lesson and church service. Pastor Justin Spady encouraged his members to participate by leaving comments or asking questions during the live stream. You can find the livestream on Facebook at The Shepherd’s House FaceBook page in case you were unable to join the live event. Pastor Spady also shared some resources for teaching kids Sabbath School (A Place To Do Something: Website or FaceBook) and supported families in doing Sabbath School with their kids at home. He also inspired his members with these words, “Even though we are physically separated because of COVID-19, we still need our church community – remember to keep in touch with one another, encourage each other, and find creative ways to lift one another up.”
Adam Case, Wisconsin Conference Ministerial Director, is encouraged by how the pastors are joining together and staying in touch with their congregations. He says, “It has been a blessing to watch our pastors find new and creative ways to minister during this challenging time. Whether it be a pastor doing a funeral with immediate family, dropping off a quarterly to a family that wants to study more, holding Bible studies via FaceTime, or leading out in an interactive worship service on Facebook live, our pastors continue to find ways to build community and are seeking new ways to spread the gospel in our territory during these unprecedented times.”
Elder Case is also happy to see the dedication of local members to their church. “Adventists in Wisconsin love their church. I have received reports of churches assigning deacons to be at the local church on Sabbath so that as members drive by they could drop off their weekly tithes and offerings. I have also heard of another church that has sent tithe envelopes to their members with return addressed, stamped envelopes to facilitate their members in returning tithe. The fact that, even during difficult times, people are seeking to remain connected with God and be faithful with their giving is inspiring to me.”
Listed below you will find a selection of Wisconsin church services and other programs to join by phone conference, youtube, and Facebook. If you know of other church service viewing opportunities, feel free to notify us by sending information to Juanita Edge, Communication Director.
1. Ashland: https://www.facebook.com/ashlandsdachurch/
3. Greater Milwaukee Adventist Fellowship: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY7ya9EdqJ0e2D_JAyt9QOQ?fbclid=IwAR0Vr3zZ1N4aFVzQrSILD5Be_ZESyrKOr0PC0SJg3gqv06l7gYTqPfOS480
4. Green Bay: https://www.facebook.com/greenbaysda/?ref=settings
5. Kenosha Company: 11:00 am Sabbath, to join phone conference dial: 425-536-6353, code: 167229
7. Madison East: http://facebook.com/madisonadventistchurch
8. Milwaukee Central Spanish: https://www.facebook.com/iglesiacentralmke
10. Willow River Christian Fellowship (New Richmond): https://www.facebook.com/Willow-River-Christian-Fellowship-658596597642261/
11. Wisconsin Academy: https://youtu.be/RpL9dogvIbY
Laurella Case, Administrative Assistant for Communications