Evangelism extends God’s love in a variety of contexts and settings; it impacts and engages all generations; and evangelism is built upon relationship – both with God and with those around us. The Harry Denman Evangelism Award honors United Methodists in each annual conference whose exceptional ministry of evangelism brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Worship Technology Leadership Team at Farmersville United Methodist Church (Miami Valley District) had a vision not only to keep their congregation connected when the church shut down, but also to reach out to those looking for a church and those who had drifted away from the church. Prior to the pandemic, the church’s livestream would have about 30-40 live views each week. Thanks to the efforts of this team, the number of live views increased to between 800 and 2400 every week!
“The idea was that simply filming worship from the back of the sanctuary left too much distance between worship and worshiper and was not reflective of the God who desires to draw close to us,” stated Pastor Brian Thie. “We needed technology to help bridge the distance gap. We needed to insert modern music to help bridge the generation gap. We needed interactivity to bridge the conversation gap.”
The inspiration for the Worship Technology Team’s vision of a more connected online experience came from six people: Dawn Gunter, Jenny Michael, Larry Burton, Donna Thie, Carol Barnes, and Bonnie Baxley. Dawn Gunter brought the team’s vision to life by programming the software for worship and recruiting talent. Jenny Michael worked every Sunday after worship on crafting responses to people who had a prayer concern or simply said 'hello.' Larry Burton spent countless hours researching technology, purchasing it, learning it, and training others.
Donna Thie led the team that sent out mailers to invite those with whom the church had lost connection and also recruited other support members for the technology team. Carol Barnes is a wonderful blend of creative and technical savvy who quickly became dedicated to reaching out beyond the church’s membership. Finally, Bonnie Baxley is a college student who brings great technical capabilities to help reach outside the walls of the church.
Thank you, Farmersville UMC Worship Technology Leadership Team, for your exceptional leadership in helping to build God’s kingdom!