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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2020 6 months ago

Churches use technology to spread hope during COVID-19 pandemic

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Lifebridge Church and Life Church Horizon West are two churches streaming and recording messages and services during the crisis.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

Local churches may not be meeting together under one roof, but that isn’t stopping them from using technology to worship together and encourage one another.

Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in the wake of COVID-19, churches are livestreaming and recording services so their congregations can still hear a positive message and worship from home.

That includes Lifebridge Church in Windermere, which has been hosting services solely online since Sunday, March 15. 

Executive Pastor Jeff Lawrence said services are available on the church’s website, Facebook and YouTube channel — the services also remain posted after so they can be revisited. Members of the church can communicate through a live chat, as well, interacting with pastors and sending prayer requests. 

Resources for kids and students are available online, too, and a texting service also allows the congregation to stay connected, Lawrence said.

“What we’re doing basically is we’re taking what we already had and we’re really leveraging it for what we call ‘kingdom purposes,’” Lawrence said. “In the midst of darkness, we just want our people to know that you can have hope. You can stand on solid foundation when it feels like the whole world is turning — feels like you don’t know what’s going to happen next. We use these different virtual pathways to reach our people and still pastor folks when you’re not with people.”

Lifebridge Church also is working with Meals on Wheels to help provide food to seniors during the coronavirus pandemic. Lawrence said Meals on Wheels is currently overwhelmed with double the requests for food, so members of Lifebridge are doing their part by leaving food donations for pickup at the church.

“It’s so the community knows that we’re here; we’re here for you — not just our congregation,” Lawrence said. “It’s a scary time for folks, and potentially it may get scarier. … A lot of times, (people) turn to the church and say, ‘We need hope.’ That’s who we are. That’s what we do — we provide hope in darkness.” 

 

PEACE IS FOUND

Instead of meeting at Water Spring Elementary School, Life Church Horizon West also is going completely online, but on a more intimate scale — livestreamed from the home of Lead Pastor Brandt Leich.

“We as a church kind of understand being the church without a building already, but it’s given us the opportunity to focus on other aspects like the digital and online presence at this point because we can’t meet as a church like we normally would together,” Leich said.

The lead pastor has been giving messages each week alongside his wife since Sunday, March 15. The Life Church website also gives access to numerous online life groups, including one for children that offers videos and materials for parents to help them teach biblical lessons.

The church isn’t stopping its mission of reaching people and connecting them with God’s word, Leich said. 

“It’s extremely important for us to keep going,” he said. “The church can bring peace to people’s lives in a time of uncertainty. … Hopefully we can give people some tools through the word so they can have that peace and that joy in their life, and hopefully that spills out to others.”

Leich said the church is more than just a place to meet every Sunday.

“The church is not a building — the church is people,” he said. 

“Even in these chaotic times — even in these times of uncertainty — peace is found through Jesus and having a relationship with Him,” he said. “When we can cling to Him, we can get through these times. It doesn’t have to wreck our world. It may throw some hiccups and ups and downs. It may stretch our faith, but we can have faith and we can have peace — even in uncertain times like this.”

Tim Freed was the managing editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Southwest Orange Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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