contributed by Joe Whalen
When the pandemic temporarily halted in-person worship, weddings, and funerals, churches were left wondering how they could continue to provide a connection with their congregations. Many found it through streaming worship services online.
However, the same equipment used for streaming worship has found another usage in the streaming of funerals. This new usage seems to have found a permanent place in the life of those churches who can provide that service to the loved ones of a departed member of their congregation.
When asked his opinion of the use of his church’s streaming capabilities for funerals. Rev. Zach Roberts of First United Methodist Church in Blytheville responded, “There’s no question that, in my experience, the pandemic prompted the streaming of funerals and the increased use of social media to care for those in mourning.Having said that, the positive feedback we have received from streaming funerals has proven that this is an important ministry tool that we will use in the future, covid concerns or none.”
Rev. Dr.Michelle Morris at First United Methodist Church in Bentonville echoes these thoughts adding, “Streaming in general is an outgrowth of the pandemic.Most churches weren’t doing that for regular worship, much less streaming funerals, before March 2020.”
However, it’s important to remember that if your church is not already streaming its worship services and wants to begin to do so as well as provide funeral support for its members the choice of equipment can be daunting. Marc Moss, who provides the audio-visual support at Lakewood UMC in North Little Rock cautions, “Just because ‘everybody’ uses certain equipment or software or cameras or whatever is not a reason to purchase [that] equipment or adopt certain methods. There are many ways to put some video up on the internet but you must do some homework to devise a way to deliver your message affordably and within parameters as far as complexity/expandability/personnel.”
Rev. RoyBeth Kelley, the senior pastor at Lakewood UMC, indicated that she liked streaming funerals because it gave friends and family who live at a distance a way to attend the funeral when doing so in-person might otherwise work a hardship on them. Additionally, the ability to provide the family a recording of the funeral itself is something that she has found appeals to people who have lost a loved one.While we can all agree that the pandemic has been something that we could have done without, at least something good has come out of it.
Streaming funerals is something that we can now provide to families that have lost a loved one. This serves to bring them, as well as friends of the departed, closer together in a time of loss. Even when they cannot attend the funeral in person, technology now gives them the opportunity to attend online.