Last spring saw schools come to a halt, regular business for many entities come to a halt and church as Sunday worshipers knew it to be, unfortunately came to a halt. Local parishes had to think quick, and that is exactly what Neighbors United In Christ (NUIC) did.
NUIC is made up of three congregations with one mission: Using their hands for God’s work in their communities and throughout the world. It is comprised of Deronda, Little Falls and Trinity Lutheran Churches.
Missionary Frank Laubach once said, “Prayer at its highest is a two-way conversation-and for me the most important part is listening to God’s replies.”
Members of NUIC have been doing a lot of listening lately. Listening to the word of the Lord through radio and podcasts.
Pastor Lori Peper said, “Not all of our parishioners have Internet, so we wondered what to do when we were no longer able to meet for in-person worship. Bob at WPCA was a blessing to us. He helped us get a spot to be played on the radio station on Sundays.”
The church worship services are also featured on podcasts that people are tuning into from all over the world. “It is a little different format, maybe a little more casual than what we would do in-person,” said Peper.
While some churches are using video technology, members of NUIC are virtually attending church through the airwaves.
She explained they pre-record the services from Trinity. Isaac Christenson is the group’s recording engineer. Nate Overby assists and Jim Haugerud plays guitar. “We do old fashioned hymns because we knew people wouldn’t have hymnals in their homes, but we pick songs we think people can sing along with from the comfort and safety of their own homes,” Peper said.
Peper did admit that their first pre-recording for the radio took five hours as it took a bit to get used to how it all worked.
Once a relationship was formed between NUIC and WPCA, they decided to start a partnership; with NUIC sponsoring the stories of Winnie the Pooh this fall on WPCA on Mondays until December 14, 2020 at 6p.m.
You can tune into the series on the radio or live stream from a computer at www.wpcaradio.org and listen from any location. Like going back to the basics, this is an activity that families can gather together to listen to every week. With all of the negativity that has come along with the pandemic, there have been some positive changes. “I think this is one way this whole pandemic has redirected us, “ said Sandy Johnson, Assistant Pastor.
Peper and Johnson feel the implementation of the radio services and podcasts have been a major blessing. Peper said, “There are farmers who are doing chores on Sunday mornings and other people with commitments, who now still have the option to worship.”
Peper said, “We have people who really miss the socialization of church. We have people who each week look forward to seeing their families, friends and neighbors. So we have done some small group faith circles outdoors.”
They have also implemented “Phone a Friend Fridays” where the parish has been divided into groups of 10 people to check in on each other.
They have had a few outdoor and socially distanced services, which rotate between the churches.
One thing is for sure. The joint effort of church staff, volunteers, parishioners and visitors to the NUIC airings have proved that you do not just come to church, you can become the church. The church is not a building where you gather, but instead the church is the people who gather in-person or even virtually to join in Christ’s name.