When the congregation can’t congregate

Pastor Mike Glover uses videography skills to bring Sunday sermons online

Pastor Mike Glover prepares to record a devotional message for the congregation of Cordova Community Baptist Church. (March 20, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Updated: 11:22 a.m., March 28

Many people fear speaking in front of an audience. But what about speaking to an empty room?

Since Cordova Community Baptist Church closed its Sunday services to the public, Pastor Mike Glover has delivered sermons exclusively through his iPhone.

“Two weeks ago, I would have said, ‘How in the world can I preach to an empty room?’” Glover mused. “This can be an opportunity to learn, to try new things, to figure out some stuff, if you’re willing to be flexible.”

Following services on Sunday, March 15, Glover moved the church’s sermons and prayer time exclusively online. Glover had livestreamed his sermons since October 2019 to accommodate traveling congregants. But this was never regarded as a full replacement for attending church in person.

“The thought has been, ‘If you can’t make it, there’s a video here that’s good enough,’” Glover said. “But I think all of this is making a lot of churches rethink what’s ‘good enough’ when it comes to connecting people from multiple places together. ‘Good enough’ isn’t good enough anymore.”

At the center of an empty church, Pastor Mike Glover livestreams Sunday services using his iPhone. (March 22, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

The church’s preschool program has followed the lead of the school board, canceling classes but distributing packets with educational information and activities. The size of Bible study groups has also been limited according to recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Glover regularly wipes down pews, doorknobs and light switches with a solution of bleach.

Religious organizations have adopted varying responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • The Cordova Church of the Nazarene and St. George’s Episcopal Church have also moved their services entirely online.
  • As of March 25, the Little Chapel remained open for private prayer, but moved all group services entirely online.
  • As of March 28, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church remained open for private prayer, but moved all group services entirely online.
  • Cordova’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has canceled all public services.
  • As of March 24, MorningStar Independent Baptist Church of Cordova has continued to hold public services.
  • The Pathless Way Zen Community suspended all meetings in response to the pandemic — one of the first local organizations to do so.

“Churches are in a unique place right now to help ground people in the midst of fear and uncertainty,” Glover said. “I hope… that this is a time that all the churches can gather together and remind people, ‘Don’t build a house of cards and expect it to stay.’ Those things that we think give us security aren’t eternal, even if we want to believe that they are. The things that are eternal: those are the things that bring us through even the shaky times… God is here for us. That doesn’t mean that nothing bad will ever happen, but it means that, no matter what happens, we can overcome it with God’s strength.”