While gathering in a House of Worship was difficult during the worst of the pandemic, with a little faith, determination and creativity, fellowship flourished
The Salvation Army in Conception Bay South have faithful church attendees from all over the world these days, says Major Chris Pilgrim.
With the largest online following of any church in the province – averaging 2000+ following and watching the service at home from the church’s location in CBS every Sunday on Facebook and YouTube – Pastor Pilgrim shared it all came about because there was a need.
‘The first lockdown’
“When we had the first lockdown, we felt the need to do something when it came to holding church services, but how could we do it when we weren’t allowed in our buildings?” he opened. Having a “somewhat musically gifted family,” Pilgrim decided to try holding services from his living room.
“There were five of us and we just decided that we would give it a try so we went live on a Sunday evening just with our family and from there it just took off.”
The response has been amazing, he added.
“It’s just incredible how the audience just gravitated to the ministry that we were putting out. I guess the old traditional songs that we were singing and our style of worship people enjoyed and it brought about, I believe, some encouragement and a message of hope that people needed during some of the darkest times that they’d ever seen.”
Keeping the faith, so to speak, helped cope with “the uncertainties that the pandemic brought,” he added.
“At least they had something to look forward to on Sunday, particularly to those who were faithful church attenders for years and all of a sudden church doors are closed and they can’t attend. It put some in a very challenging place and we were able to provide a service that brought about some hope and gave folks something to look forward to every Sunday, even if it was from their homes.”
The buildings may have been closed, he added, but church services could continue.
Even though church has resumed, they still keep up their online presence, he added. “We have a worldwide following, or a global following. Every Sunday when we go live we have a thousand plus viewers. We’re huge on YouTube as well, with 6,000 hits each service. By the end of the week through Facebook Live we get 20,000 plus views.”
Receiving messages from all over the world is inspirational, Pilgrim added, “It is just truly remarkable how far reaching this is. It’s brought us to a whole new era of ministry that we never, ever felt we would get to. But it’s just incredible to know of the following and the interest and the encouragement that people give us weekly and the thrill for us is that we know they have the privilege of enjoying church from the comfort and safety of home.”
Pilgrim says he recognizes many are still struggling. Is there a message at this time of year he’d like to get out to those in need?
“Christmas has become commercialized as we all know, and I think it’s taken the joy out of what this season should be about. You know the old Christmas song that says that this is the most wonderful time of the year? I think many people would push back on that and say, ‘not a chance,’ with the commercialism and the hustle and bustle of it all it’s taken some of the joy away.”
The message he would put forth is simple. “Get back to the basics of what this season is all about, where it all originated and that is the birth of Jesus. He came to give us hope, peace, joy and love, not just this time of the year, but throughout our lives in the midst of the chaos,” he shared.
“We can gravitate to that message to find peace, he added. Remember Matthew 1:23 which says, So all this was done that it might be fulfilled that which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ Pilgrim shared. “God is with us. And we can, I think, hold fast to that message all throughout the year and hold to it through a pandemic or whatever it is that we’re going through. I guess that’s the message I wanted to bring out. That’s the truth of it for us.”
NTV’s Sunday Service
NTV has been helping connect viewers to their faith as well, airing Sunday church services from local parishes each Sunday morning at 10:30 A.M.
Lindsey Andrews, the General Manager at NTV/OZFM and The Newfoundland Herald, shared that the Sunday Service homepage has received over 15,226 page views since the program launched back in April 2020.
It started off with four churches in rotation, Andrews explained; Salvation Army in CBS, Bethesda Pentecostal Church on MacDonald Drive in St. John’s, St. Mark’s Anglican Church on Logy Bay Road in St. John’s and St. Peter’s Parish Roman Catholic Church in Mount Pearl.
A number of months ago, the United Church in Cowan Heights was added to the rotation as well.
“NTV is very proud, in these pandemic times, to be able to help folks stay connected through their faith,” Andrews shared.
“It has been simply amazing to realize that so many of our viewers watch the weekly Sunday Service program. NTV genuinely appreciates the commitment of the five church denominations for providing their services for us to broadcast,” he added.
This time of year especially, when so many usually attend church services with family, having access to options is important. Spreading a message filled with peace, joy, and hope is always important, but it’s perhaps even more special and more needed at Christmas.
Andrews says he knows the good that has come out of helping local churches spread their message of hope, because he hears regularly from appreciative viewers. It means so much, he shared, to know how much joy NTV has helped spread when it was needed the most.
Any final words, we ask. Andrews nodded. “On behalf of all of us at NTV, have a blessed Christmas season.”
Fore more visit: ntv.ca/category/programs/sunday-services/