10/28/20. 2020 has been a very, strange and scary year. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many of us to be isolated from each other. While this has prevented us from getting together for in-person church services as well as other various church activities, St. Matthew United Methodist Church in Weston, WV has responded diligently and answered the call of duty.
Our church has stepped up and into the digital age, and, as a result, our church has become more connected with soaring technology, reaching out to one other in new, creative spiritual ways. A big thank you goes out to Pastor Jim Martin for leading the rally call.
In March, the implementation of the popular online virtual meeting platform Zoom was utilized, not only for church meetings but also for a bible study, opening the door and paving the way for new possibilities in the future. St. Matthew was immediately able to host numerous online virtual meetings in a safe manner as a result.
Also in March, Pastor Jim began to effectively take advantage of Facebook’s livestreaming feature to stream our Online Worship Services. This has continued to improve on a weekly basis and the sermons are now conveniently available to watch anytime.
In April, with the assist of the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church, led by Deborah Coble, Director of Communications, she helped completely re-design and launch a brand new website for St. Matthew, and now, today the site is full of interactive features including Sermons, News, an Events Calendar, a Prayer List, Verses of the Day, Community and Ministries information and a newly-installed online giving tool called Tithe.ly. Additionally, those who do not have a Facebook account are afforded the opportunity to watch previous sermons directly from our website.
Also in April, we setup a new, free marketing tool called Mailchimp that permits us to stay connected via email blasts. These quick and convenient email notices have been very helpful in sending out upcoming events and other important information to our church family.
In July, we began subscribing to a new service called Sermon By Phone, which is a service that acquires a local (toll free) phone number and makes available to the subscribing church the ability to “upload” a voice recording of any length (such as a sermon) and attach the recording to the phone number. Many church members who do not have Facebook or Internet Service have been able to enjoy our Sunday Worship Services via phone recordings as a result.
In August, we installed yet another connection tool called One Call Now. One Call Now is an automated calling system that delivers phone call messages to groups of people. St. Matthew has utilizing this very effectively and has had the ability to deliver time-sensitive messages in real time regarding church updates, events, service cancellations, prayer requests and other important timely information.
In August and up through September, new, high-quality cameras were purchased along with a state-of-the art switchboard system that allows us to showcase different scenes from our worship services, giving viewers a sense of actually being present at our services. The improved system has been awesome and everyone who helps at St. Matthew continues to help make improvements to this system every week.
This would not have been possible without help from Deborah Coble, Director of Communications of the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church, who has been managing and directing the $500 technology grant packages to churches to assist in providing cameras, switchboards and other streaming equipment necessary to publish live services and events.
These grants are made possible through the orchestration of Ken Willard, Director of Discipleship, Leadership, and Congregational Vitality and the United Methodist Foundation of West Virginia, and we have been very fortunate for this. We have been told that other churches can still apply for the technology grant.
A big thank you goes out to Deborah, Ken, the West Virginia Conference and the United Methodist Foundation of West Virginia for your ongoing support of St. Matthew.
Justin Roy has also been a major contributor to this project and St. Matthew is very appreciative of his time and efforts with managing this. His 18 years of experience at WDTV has really been a blessing when it comes to helping manage the cameras and switchboard during services. Thank you so much, Justin!
Pastor Jim Martin has also been very instrumental with orchestrating all of this new technology and our church family feels very fortunate to have him doing so many great things to keep us all together. Thank you, Pastor Jim!
Many members of the church have helped collaborate and offer invaluable input for some of the technology upgrades mentioned above and we are very appreciative of those contributions from those particular members as well.
Of course, none of this would be possible without your help and continued support of our church. A big thank you also goes to everyone, you are very much appreciated!
So, in some regards, because of all of these fantastic technology upgrades, St. Matthew UMC is now more connected than ever. We look forward to continuing to advance our capabilities with technology so we can reach new levels of spreading the good word about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, no matter where we are in the world.