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Faith & Family: Churches find streaming services a benefit in COVID-19 pandemic

NATCHEZ — Melvin White, pastor of Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, said his congregation is adjusting to worshiping in the age of the new coronavirus.

White’s church, like many others in this era, is live streaming their messages to congregations who are under stay-at-home orders and practicing social distancing to help curtail the spread of the virus.

Both Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church and Zion Chapel AME Church have been using Facebook Live and teleconferencing to stay in touch with their congregations.

White said the services are still being presented at 11 a.m. on Sundays but are on Facebook Live and on the church’s website.

“I have never done live streaming before,” White said. “My officers have always encouraged me to do it but I never had interest in doing it. Now, I’m glad I did. It has been a blessing.”

On the Sunday Facebook Live services, White said the live stream has reached approximately 8,000 views.

On communion Sundays, White said he is offering his congregation drive up service to receive communion from 12:30 to 3 p.m.

“Even when we come back into the church, I’m going to still use the live streaming,” White said. “We use our website and our Facebook account for the live streaming. I live stream directly from the church because we put a new sound and video system to help with our outreach.”

With all of the services being online, the Rev. Birdon Mitchell Jr., pastor at Zion Chapel AME, said for his congregation the live stream has been going well.

“I miss seeing my people face-to-face,” Mitchell said.

For Zion AME Chapel, each member of the congregation is assigned a class leader.

“That’s how the whole church stays connected,” Mitchell said. “I have been making calls and making sure everyone is doing OK. Many of them aren’t getting out and that’s the thing about it, especially with the senior group that are part of the congregation. I don’t want them to get out. We’re trying to make sure our people stay in and stay safe, because we want to curve this virus.”