Pastor Timothy Janzen has transformed his living room into a set for his livestream every Sunday. He hosts Sunday school at 10 a.m. and two services – one at 11 a.m. and the other at 6 p.m. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Vancouver Island churches embrace technology to cope with pandemic

Technology helping faith communities connect

Despite working from home, every Sunday morning, Pastor Timothy Janzen dresses to the nines.

He isn’t going anywhere physically, but expects to be seen by dozens of people throughout Greater Victoria.

He arrives in the living room with five minutes to spare. His wife, Esther plops their kids, Abigail and Isaiah, on the couch as they watch dad stand behind a pulpit and wait for the countdown…. 3, 2, 1.

He welcomes viewers with a hearty chuckle as the livestream begins. Esther begins playing a hymn on the piano and joins her husband in singing.

This is the new way Capital City Baptist Church operates during the pandemic.

Esther Janzen (right) plays a hymn on a piano in their View Royal home. She also helps with setting up the livestream on Sundays. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

“We’re trying to keep a sense of familiarity when everything has changed,” said Janzen, the pastor of Capital City Baptist in View Royal. He’s been at the church for nearly three years.

“It feels lonely, but at the same time I have a new thankfulness for being able to connect through this technology. I realize that I miss getting the feedback when I share a sermon in front of the congregation.”

Janzen finishes his livestream at 11 a.m. and invites church members to join a Zoom meeting to share how their weeks have been.

Then, he does the livestream all over again at 6 p.m. for those that missed out in the morning.

His is just one approach organizations of faith are taking during the COVID-19 ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.

READ MORE: Easy going pastor tries to boost church attendance

Rev. Sandra Hounsell-Drover of Church of the Advent in Colwood said she misses story time with the young children each Sunday morning. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Rev. Sandra Hounsell-Drover sits down with a cup of coffee and joins a Zoom meeting with members from Church of the Advent at 10 a.m.

Instead of livestreaming, she posts an edited service filmed earlier in the week at the Colwood church with the help of her husband-turned-videographer.

“There’s an undercurrent of energy that is almost tangible right before you worship together,” said Hounsell-Drover. “It’s the moments when kids come up for story time and there’s that eight-year-old that always rolls their eyes at you. I miss that.”

On Fridays, select church members come into the building one-by-one to film their part in the service, whether that be a scripture reading or special song – it’s done in 10 to 15 minutes.

She makes sure the mics are sanitized, proper distance is kept, and the entrance doors remain open to avoid cross contamination.

Rev. Sandra Hounsell-Drover usually films her services on Friday so that they can be edited and posted on Sunday morning with a simple click of an upload button. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

While the members trickle in and out in person, the flow of viewership online has picked up.

Before the pandemic, Hounsell-Drover said they had between 80 and 100 on a good day. Now, each weekly video receives more than 300 views.

She’s convinced to keep the online uploads going even after they reunite as a church post-COVID-19.

ALSO READ: VIDEO: B.C. church holds drive-thru Mother’s Day celebration

Pastor Phillip Washiem plans to do the same for his congregation in Langford. Every week, he sends out a link to view his sermons which he films in his office at Redeemer Lutheran Church.

He drops physical copies of the recordings to those who aren’t as tech savvy.

As a pastor for 18 years, he’s proud to hear about members joining bible studies on Zoom or texting each other to see how their week has shaped up.

“It’s important to remember that we’re not alone during these times,” said Washeim. “It’s been a different kind of busy these days when you lead a church and we can’t wait to feel like a church family again.”

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aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com

CoronavirusWest Shore

 

Pastor Timothy Janzen of Capital City Baptist Church leads a Sunday service on livestream at his home in View Royal. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

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