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Relying on online church services reaches people through the ‘side door’

Elm Christian Center Blaineham Media Technician Scott Parker, front left, with technician Daniel Y, left to back, Tom Hatch, Suzanne Hatch and Amber Watson lined up.

Scott Hammond / Staff

Elm Christian Center Blaineham Media Technician Scott Parker, front left, with technician Daniel Y, left to back, Tom Hatch, Suzanne Hatch and Amber Watson formed the lineup.

Churches in Blaineham are choosing to stay online for now, creating an opportunity for people to participate in the “side door” service.

With New Zealand, except for Auckland, after moving to Level 2, lockdown restrictions have been eased for many in the country.

But with a 50-person cap on the inside, Tom Hatch, senior pastor at the Elm Christian Center Blaineham, said it’s easy to stay online.

“If we’ve served 50, we’ll be seeing at least three services a day on Sunday, maybe four,” Hatch said.

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They had more than 200 congregations.

“There will be some who will not come because they are immune compromises or uncertainties.”

Despite being online, Level 2 brought some positive things, such as the ability to stream live from the church, instead of Hatch’s living room.

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“That means we can live stream from our auditorium. We can have a full pooja team and tech team this weekend,” Hatch said.

“Being online was actually an opportunity to reach people,” he said.

“If people are interested in the church, or if they want to know what the church looks like, they can join it to protect their home.

“It’s not the whole thing, ‘Oh, I’m feeling a little weird or anxious because I’m going to a church I’ve never been to before.’

“Strangely enough, they don’t walk through the front door, they’re coming through a side door.”

Tom and Suzanne Hatch Alert Level 4 pre-record and live stream from their room

Scott Hammond / Staff

Tom and Suzanne Hatch Alert Level 4 pre-record and live stream from their room

So far, Hatch and his wife, Suzanne, have been mastering live streaming cameras, although he acknowledges that his challenges remain.

“One sentence I’ve heard, I’m going to use myself, you’re never going to get rid of it, you’re going to get in the habit of getting a little hurt,” Hatch said.

“We set up a small studio in our lounge, my wife Suzanne played the guitar, we both lead the worship, and we used our phones as cameras.

“We had a small desk with a couple of microphones, so we channel everything through the camera, and live-streamed on Facebook.”

Alert Level 2 means churches are choosing to stay online right now, but are able to record and live stream from inside their buildings instead of at home.

Scott Hammond / Staff

Alert Level 2 means churches are choosing to stay online right now, but are able to record and live stream from inside their buildings instead of at home.

He was excited to be back with a large team.

The team was still watching to see how they could get everyone back to church.

If the restrictions on groups of 100 people are lifted, they may be able to operate the services in person.

Greg Streich, chairman of the Star of the Sea Marlborough Pastoral Council, said his services would be online, with a review on September 21.

This applies to churches in Kaikōura, Seddon, Blenheim and Picton. The decision was made by Arch Davis in Wellington because at one time there was a restriction on public permission.

“In the interim, we have the public from Tuesday to Saturday, these are the six services,” Streich said.

Stretch said the services became more popular during the lockdown.

He had a new parish priest, Father Gilts Mathis, who was still in Sydney and could not go to New Zealand because of Cove 19.

Father Gilts was live-streaming at 5pm on Saturday, and Acting Parish Pastor Father Pat MacIndo assisted during the week.

“It’s good for Parsons to be able to watch it live,” he said.

“It took a while to finish, but it’s no different. We’re just hoping and praying that it’s resolved soon.”

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