From a Pastor's Desk

A series of opinion articles from rostered ministers and lay leaders from our Synod.



Jul 09, 2020

By The Rev. Richard O. Hill, Hope Lutheran Church, Selden


Worship has always been the chief event for members of Hope Lutheran Church in Selden, and during the Corvid19 pandemic, that continues to be true. Since mid-March, Hope’s Worship Team has created worship services that reach out not just to members, but also to people in several other states.

For several years Hope has offered live services online using Facebook, so we initially started out simply livecasting the Saturday evening service and the other two services each Sunday from the sanctuary. We changed to our two-service summer worship schedule and began offering our services using Zoom, YouTube live, and Facebook live and added “hopelutheranonline.church,” a free additional web resource that is made easily accessible through Hope’s website, www.hopeluth.com.

In April and May, the Worship Team started offering Zoom services using PowerPoint presentations with recorded hymns embedded into the slides, and with team members taking turns in contributing different parts of the services from their homes.

In June, the Worship Team decided to invite people to worship at the church in their cars in the church parking lot. We set up a worship center in front of the church’s main entrance, with an altar table, lectern, an amplifier with speakers and several microphones, a keyboard and a guitar. A Parking Lot Team of adults and teens and an ushering team welcomes people and distributes bulletins and communion wafers (both wheat and gluten-free) in individual envelopes as they arrive. Both Sunday services are livecast.

A special feature in each service is a Children’s Story Time where Marty, a puppet with a sense of humor reads a Bible Story for children from the Spark Bible Story Book.

Offerings are received as people depart from the service.  

In addition to having Sunday morning services, the team resumed having Saturday evening services which are livecast from the sanctuary and open to a limited number of additional worshippers.

For several years I have been working with leaders to develop a Shared Ministry approach to organizing Hope’s ministry. Although I preside for communion at each service, I share worship leadership and preaching responsibility with Vicar Eric Faret. We are assisted by Synod Deacon Dee Hecker, Director of Music Joyce Stahl, guitarist Carl Werkheiser, Assisting Minister Lisa Spinazzola, Usher Team Leader Sandy Reifel, Council President Carol Bottstein and Tech Coordinator Jon Laza who participate actively as members of the team.

In addition to having weekend services, the Worship Team has held monthly Taize’ worship services and an Agape Meal online. We have also offered a weekly Zoom Hymn Sing called “Then Sings my Soul” and Bible Studies called “One in the Word” focusing on the weekly lessons for worship. Recordings of these events have been posted and are available on Facebook and YouTube for people who want to view them at other times.

This has been an exciting learning process for all of us at Hope. Each week we have learned something, and we have adapted our practices as our knowledge increases. Eventually, we will be able to worship indoors again, but we will continue to use what we’ve learned for proclaiming a message of healing and hope through Jesus Christ. That’s our mission, and we’ll keep at it for the sake of the gospel.