Mississippi churches reflect on how COVID-19 advanced technology use in their congregations

Published: Feb. 5, 2023 at 11:01 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Next month will mark the three-year anniversary of Mississippi’s first case of COVID-19. The pandemic forced us to change our habits in just about every aspect of our day-to-day life, including how we go to church.

Churches around the metro said while they were utilizing some forms of technology before the pandemic, the time away from their congregations in 2020 pushed them to take a closer look at how they could use it more.

“We’ve got to be able to reach the lost at all costs, and part of that is by being able to maximize technology,” Pastor Antoine Barlow of South Liberty Baptist Church in Canton said.

On March 11, 2020, the first COVID-19 case was found in Mississippi. Three days later, pastors everywhere were forced to adapt to make sure their sermons could be heard.

“It started with our minister, Tim West, with just his iPhone in his house, and then using him and his family to broadcast services. So we kept asking the question, ‘Well, what else do we need to be able to use back at the building, and have a much better service and much better delivery,’” I.T. Director at North Brandon Church of Christ Kevin Knuckles said.

Thousands of pastors took to social media to continue holding services and bible studies for weeks. But they didn’t stop there.

From figuring out how folks could give:

“We began to research software that would assist us in being able to still allow people to give and to do those things that they really wanted to do,” Pastor Barlow said.

To figuring out how many were attending:

“Somebody scan the QR code, [and] it takes them to a Google form so that they can report on their attendance, whether they were here, just them or how many other family members were here,” Knuckles said.

Churches made sure they were reaching their congregation and more.

“Further reach all out to different countries, you know, whether it be Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Philippines, several other countries where people were watching,” Knuckles said.

Even after the hardship, pastors said they’ve grown from it.

“Christianity itself was formed through not the crucible of convenience but the crucible of chaos. So we’ve found that all of these things have been good for us. They offer us an opportunity to really speak to the life that our people are living,” Pastor Barlow explained.

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