Thou Shalt Not Miss Church in Isolation
The smoothly flowing, Sunday morning Interdenominational Worship Service at Paradise Valley Estates — which shows on Channel 998 — is a testament to cooperation in challenging times. The tapings, which take place on the previous Thursdays in an almost empty Rawlinson Hall, prove that, as it says in Ecclesiastes, “there is a time for every purpose under heaven.”
Each Sunday, the program unfolds with familiar comfort and COVID-19 safety protocols:
- A chimes player plays and leaves the room due to capacity regulations.
- At the lectern, the worship service coordinator asks for a moment of silent prayer before welcoming the week’s guest minister.
- Various socially distant residents read the scripture.
- The first hymn is played on the piano, without singing.
- Next comes the sermon and ecumenical recitations followed by two more hymns.
- Prayers are requested for hospitalized residents.
- Last, a recording by soloist Michele Rivard closes the service.
Everyone can follow the program in a bulletin and on accompanying PowerPoint slides. The Convention Services team provides the technical orchestration of the finished product.
The change from an in-person service to video happened in early March 2020. In fact, PVE’s Interdenominational Worship Service never missed a Sunday, thanks to resident ministers, resident volunteers and team members.
Before quarantine, about 75 congregants and 12 choir members attended services. The number of video viewers peaked during lockdown when residents could not attend their own churches and remains steady with those who prefer the at-home convenience and closed captioning.
And speaking of a time for every purpose, you might not know that it actually takes about two hours to edit the closed captions. The feed is mostly a stream of phonetic sounds, all in lowercase letters, without any punctuation! I edit in sentence structure, capitalize the words that should be capitalized, and edit out extraneous sounds.
Some common sound-alike phonetic errors I have come across are “warship” for “worship,”
“coveted crisis” for “COVID crisis,” “parakeet” for “Paraclete” and “repair circle” for “prayer circle.” I’m always glad to see hymns — especially those with four or five verses — because those words already appear on the screen!