IN a normal year, songs of praise echoed by Shouter Baptist congregations would fill churches and emit from gatherings across the islands. However, in these pandemic times, life has drastically changed.
With a rise in local Covid-19 infections, authorities have discouraged large meetings, including those of a religious nature. Permissions for vigils and marches have also been denied.
These advisories, even though delivered just before Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day, have not stopped observances outright.
Celebrations will take place, just with limited attendance. Live streams and at-home events have already been scheduled.
So how does one keep their faith alive without attending places of worship?
Tech news website wired.com offers some ideas on how religious leaders can keep the faith alive and reach out to others.
Embrace new ways to gather
Even with limited indoor assemblies, many members may resist meeting inside places of worship, even with masks and social distancing, for fear of getting sick. Services can be streamed live on Facebook thus allowing people to view from wherever they deem comfortable to them. Even those still in quarantine, or recovering from another illness, can have access to the service.
Engage your audience
Spiritual leaders can encourage online participation by incorporating chat functions during a service or including engagement strategies with special moments that individuals watching can respond to by clicking a link and/or virtually raising their hand.
Hymn lyrics can also be digitally distributed in advance.
A recorded sermon may be viewed asynchronously from a website. Virtual attendees can follow along all in real time when necessary.
Build New Bridges
Faith leaders can coordinate conference calls, and, using software applications such as Zoom, participants can interact and pair up as prayer partners.
According to the article, “The Internet has also provided a much safer and more flexible alternative to handing around the traditional offering plate. Visitors to the website for Chapel in the Pines now give to the mission of their choice online through a customised drop-down menu.”
Technology has now allowed leaders to bring together other congregations from the communities.
Seize the power of content
Rather than have live performances of large choirs, one can simply stream a favourite performance from a DVD archive. Teachings can also be replayed online.
Keep on streaming even when things get back to normal. One can continue offering teachings and, equally important, allows people to see and talk with one another, even to a limited degree, thus helping preserve the sense of community.
New Frontiers in Faith
Technology that helps people feel most connected to each other will be adopted the quickest.
Professor Aditya Sharma of Durham, North Carolina, said the next step for faith communities could be the frontier of virtual reality. He added: “One day you may be able to watch your own avatar—a digital version of yourself—sitting in the temple setting and virtually lighting a candle.”
Sharma sees no conflict between God and technology. “God put the principles in place for us; scientific endeavour is discovering these principles by which the material world operates.”