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Pastors of Christian Reformed congregations in Classis Zeeland, a regional group of churches, collaborated to create a joint service of “prayer, scripture, and proclamation” to share with their congregations March 29. Complying with state orders to avoid group gatherings, the pastors read, preached, prayed, sang, or played from their own homes or church sanctuaries and were recorded on the now-becoming-familiar Zoom video meeting platform. John Cleveringa, a pastor at Haven CRC in Zeeland, Mich., coordinated the recording. He said they wanted to use this technological tool because it’s become a kind of hallmark of this time of physical distancing.

“About 95% of us were unfamiliar with Zoom until now, but while we were not necessarily comfortable with the technology we wanted to be able to provide something to our communities,” Cleveringa said. The result might not be “perfect and polished,” but it was prayerful and genuine.

Cleveringa said the idea for preparing the joint service came from Classis Zeeland pastors’ usual weekly gatherings at the City on a Hill Café. These have continued, but by video conferencing, since restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were put in place.

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Stephen Terpstra, a pastor at Borculo CRC, and Art Van Wolde, another pastor at Haven CRC, outlined the order of worship and assigned pieces—including hymns, words of greeting, prayers, scripture reading, preaching, and a benediction—to each participant. The service was recorded March 27 and pastors shared a link to the video, encouraging members of their congregations to use the service as their Sunday evening worship.

“It was much appreciated and a sign of our solidarity as a church and in prayer during these unsettling times,” said Terpstra. “Our classis is closely knit, and we have been very intentional about growing the bonds between pastors and congregations over the last decade.”

Cleveringa said nearly every pastor was able to participate and every congregation received the link to share the video. The pastors plan to prepare another collaborative service of worship for April 26. At the time of writing, the first service had 740 views on Vimeo.

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