Congregations "Buddy up" for Online Worship

An irregular spider web with beads of water on it, in front of a yellow-orange background.

Rev. Darcey Laine’ serves two of our small congregations. Because of her idea, congregations across upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania have started “buddying up.” If you’re a smaller congregation, consider if this might work for you and reach out to a larger congregation near you who is streaming services. If you’re a larger congregation, consider reaching out to the smaller congregations near you.

This is an existential crisis for some of our smaller congregations, especially those with no staff or just supply preaching. While the ministers are receiving an ocean of support and advice, some of our lay led congregations are not as strongly connected to the web of support. Here’s my thought—instead of just saying “no services” or “there’s lots of services out there, go find one” it might help if small churches all “attended together” a specific service offered by, well, us.

  • Easy level: the small church lists the online service information for your service in their church bulletin and encourages folks to attend together. You provide said information to the congregational contact, and for extra credit say “we are delighted to be joined by folks from ___ congregation this morning” in your welcome.
  • Intermediate: providing break out groups by congregation at some point during, before or after the service, offering technical assistance
  • Advanced: some collaborate aspect to worship, perhaps the chalice lighting is offered by the president of the visiting congregation?

Some examples:

  • This coming Sunday, the Cortland congregation is attending May Memorial in Syracuse NY. Athens, PA is attending First Unitarian Ithaca, NY. The congregations will list these in their regular newsletter weekly worship calendar.
  • The next week, I am leading a Multi congregation zoom service for Athens, PA Cortland, NY, and have invited other family-sized congregations to join us.

If you feel inspired by this, reach out to your neighbors. If you don't have their contact information, reach out to regional staff for assistance.

About the Author

Darcey Elizabeth Hegvik Laine

Rev. Darcey Laine lives in Ithaca, NY and serves congregations in Athens, PA and Cortland, NY. Over the years Rev. Laine has consulted and preached at a number of small congregations, which taught her the blessings of small-church ministry.

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