ONLINE SERVICES: St Mark's and St John’s have adapted to the times.
ONLINE SERVICES: St Mark's and St John’s have adapted to the times.

Dalby churches switch to technology to keep message alive

THEY say when God closes a door he opens a window, and that has been the case for some of Dalby’s churches who have used the past three months to build upon their usual church services.

When the doors of the churches closed in March due to COVID-19, congregations and parishes opened up their laptops to find the services had not stopped, or even slowed down.

Our church leaders have used YouTube and online streaming services to reach their community, a move they believe was vital especially given all the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Reverend David Brown from the Dalby Anglican Church and Pastor Joel Pukallus from St Mark’s Lutheran Church both took to social media to continue their services and have seen resounding success in the last three months.

Reverend Brown has taken to filming his regular Vicar of Dalby column as opposed to writing it, and also publishes a vlog going through the New Testament along with his regular Sunday services that are published to YouTube.

“It’s been exciting to be invited into people’s living rooms and tell them about Jesus,” he said. “It’s been bittersweet but God has taught us a lot during this time.”

The parish at St John’s have also been delivering care packages to families in need during this time.

While the nature of church services and the deliverance of their usual message has been altered drastically, and within a very short period of time, Reverend Brown maintained that his job and mission always remained the same.

“One of the great things about being a minister is no matter what the restrictions are, my mission doesn’t really change,” he said.

“My mission is about making Jesus known in the community and helping people know Jesus more.

“As a team at church we just had to review how we go about our mission and what was the most effective way to do it within the guidelines.”

Pastor Pukallus and his parish have been running online services from day dot when restrictions were first announced.

Their services, published through YouTube, have been viewed across international waters as far as the United Kingdom and Africa.

As for a start date for face-to-face services, that remains a mystery.

Pastor Pukallus said the services at St Mark’s normally average about 100 people in the congregation each week, but with rules that say one person must have a four square metre radius around them, only 68 people will be able to fit inside the church.

Those rules are more strict for their choir, who have to have a seven square metre radius around them.

That hasn’t meant the congregation have been excluded from any services – it’s been quite the opposite.

The pastor said they’ve still been able to include the parish in the services in a unique way.

“People are doing the readings at home and the prayers at home and sending them all in and they’re being edited all together,” Pastor Pukallus said.

“What people have said they love about our services is the engagement and not just the content.

“You can always go online and see someone’s service, but it’s about the engagement and they’ve been engaging with people in their homes.”

Planning is still underway for how face-to-face services will be able to come back in a safe, manageable way, but the church leaders can rest easy knowing the community has still been able to engage with their mission, albeit in a different way.

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