JCM program continues with online service during COVID-19

Marketing April 9, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to spread, the way we do everything is changing. Schools and business have shut down. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended social distancing, thus eliminating public gatherings. 

Despite these changes, the Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM) program at New Hope Lutheran Church in Racine, Wis., didn’t miss a beat. The program schedule includes hosting “Worship at the Cross” services on the fourth Saturday of each month.

As JCM works to share God’s Word with people who have disabilities, the “Worship at the Cross” service is designed to make each part of a worship service have special meaning. Leading up to a recent service, volunteers and organizers quickly decided to change the service to make it an online event.

With the use of Zoom, a video conferencing service that allow users to meet virtually, the program would be held at its normal time with one big difference. Rather than meeting in a common space, participants would each join from the comfort of their own homes.

“This is a wonderful way for JCM programs can stay connected in this uncertain time,” said Pastor Joel Gaertner, national director of JCM. “In addition to God’s Word, programs share his comfort and reassurance.”

Fortunately, New Hope Lutheran Church had already started to use Zoom to share its weekly Sunday church services.

“We had the equipment ready and in place,” explained Ben Weigand, JCM coordinator. “We thought having music for the service would be nice. Pastor (Scoggins), a pianist, and I gathered in the sanctuary.”

Being that New Hope was the first JCM program to host a virtual service, Pastor Gaertner extended the invitation to the JCM community to participate. Several new faces from other JCM programs joined for the service.

“We had someone who had attended our service in the past, but she had trouble getting to the service,” said Ben. “It was nice to reconnect with people we hadn’t seen in a while.”

Going forward, organizers hope to continue to host JCM programs online.

“We will definitely keep going. Even when we are back together, it would be nice to continue a Zoom service for those who cannot attend in person,” Ben said.

During the service, all users, except for the leader, are muted to ensure that the service can be heard. The program chat feature is used to share prayer requests and other thoughts during the service. Upon the conclusion of the service, the audio is turned on to allow attendees to talk and connect.

Using Zoom or a similar video chatting program is excellent for all JCM programs to meet while it is recommended to remain at home. More JCM programs are continuing to host services online. Details regarding upcoming services that are open to the public will be posted on the Jesus Cares Ministries Facebook page. Program leaders who are interested in learning about hosting a service online can contact Pastor Gaertner at jcm@tlha.org.

JCM hopes to share in our JCM Connect e-newsletter both stories and tips regarding how JCM programs are staying in touch during this time. Email jcm@tlha.org to sign up for the e-newsletter.