By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
With the COVID-19 crisis forcing churches to find alternative ways to worship, the two Giles County congregations decided to find an alternative way to observe the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
Pastor Rick Bilyeu at Richland Baptist said his church normally observes the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday, the night before Good Friday. “We could not do it this year, so we decided we would observe it on Easter Sunday,” Bilyeu said.
The church has been recording videos for use on Facebook, the pastor said,
To plan for the Lord’s Supper, the church purchased 500 prepackaged communion cups which include the bread. Because the cups were late in arriving, Richland was able to borrow the prepackaged cups from First Baptist and replaced them when theirs arrived.
The church followed distancing guidelines and placed the packages on a table outside the church. They notified members the communion cups were available at the church, Bilyeu said.
Bilyeu recorded the service on Saturday and even wore a coat and tie. “We wanted to replicate the Sunday morning service on tape. Church members were able to participate in the Lord’s Supper while watching the video.
“We had positive feedback on Facebook,” Bilyeu affirmed.
First Baptist Church has traditionally observed the Lord’s Supper as part of a Good Friday celebration, said pastor Tony Gomillion. “It’s pretty important to us as a church family. We still wanted to do it even though we couldn’t do it as we normally would.”
Like their sister church, First Baptist set up a time for members to pick up their communion cups at the church. Gomillion and other staff ministers wore masks and gloves and interacted with the congregation at a safe distance as they came by the church. They were able to check on needs and accept offering envelopes from those who wished to give.
Gomillion was appreciative of the opportunity to connect with his members, even for just a short time. “There is nothing that replaces your church family,” he observed. “It gave us an opportunity to connect.”
The church held a pre-recorded YouTube service at 6 p.m. on Good Friday and First Baptist members were able to participate in the Lord’s Supper, the pastor said, noting that he even had the opportunity to participate in the Lord’s Supper with his family.
Gomillion said that more than 200 people participated on Good Friday and grew to more than 600 as people watched it later. First Baptist normally averages 600 each week in two services.
In addition, First Baptist reached out to two local nursing homes and provided communion cups to about 140 interested residents. “They were able to participate on their own or participate in our online service,” Gomillion said.
He said that the church has received positive feedback from members about the observance of the Lord’s Supper.