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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

    news article

    Church livestreams God’s word

    November 7, 2017 / By Kathleen Christiansen

    After some members of the Lycoming United Methodist Church became too ill to attend Sunday Worship, Pastor Brandin Greco came up with an idea in September 2016. About the same time, Facebook Live, the social media platform’s livestreaming, was growing in popularity. Pastor Greco thought his church could use this technology for something good.

    “A lot of people put down things like Facebook and cellphones,” he said. “Yes, they can take away from worship, and they can take away from that connection, that personal connection, but if we’re to teach and preach that all things are of God, why can’t we use technology; why can’t we use these things to go ahead and share his word and love with people?”

    At first, the Lycoming UMC’s livestreaming consisted of iPhone attached to a music stand by a car mount.

     “The video was jumpy and the audio was not the greatest, but for the first time in a long time, they were able to be a part of worship, and we were able to communicate with them during worship, so they felt like they were part of the church family again.”

    The livestreaming has since improved with the addition of an iPad, and it has grown in popularity through word of mouth. And while Pastor Greco can’t credit livestreaming completely with the church’s growth in the last year and a half, he said it has definitely helped.

    Philipa Njau, a Lycoming UMC member, said she enjoys the church’s livestreaming.

    “It helps reach more people,” she said. “On days that you can’t come to church, you can always tune in; it will be there.”

    Philipa’s parents live in Nairobi, Kenya, and watch the Lycoming UMC’s worship service online. In Kenya, her parents run the Paa Ya Paa Arts & Cultural Centre, which has a community church and uses the arts to share and explore God’s love. Pastor Greco saw an opportunity to share communion with the global community on World Communion Sunday through livestreaming, and Philipa helped connect the two congregations so they could share communion through Skype.

    “I especially loved the experience of livestreaming with my family,” she said. “World Communion Sunday provided an opportunity for us to have communion together. The experience was great, so it brings a taste for more.”

    Pastor Greco said the Lycoming UMC plans to do more livestreaming events with the arts center in the future, and they have even discussed starting an arts ministry with Paa Ya Paa.

    The Lycoming UMC’s Sunday livestream starts with prayer requests at 9 a.m., followed by worship at 9:15 a.m. You can find it and previous livestreams on Facebook.

    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 86 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."