Abilene Church adjusts to online services

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- During the pandemic businesses, schools, and even places of worship have used technology to continue their scheduled activities.

“It was a big transition early on because we didn’t have any of the technology available,” said Pastor Dustin Wilhite.

Pastor Dustin Wilhite of Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Abilene says moving to online services only was painful for him because he knows how much physically being in church means to people.

“We have several people who it means the world to them to come to church on Sunday morning. To tell them no you can’t do that, that’s very difficult as a pastor to feel like I’m taking that away from people,” said Pastor Wilhite.

To mitigate the spread of the virus Aldersgate United Methodist Church started broadcasting its services on both YouTube and Facebook.

To make room for the technology needed to do so, the church had to turn a library into a media room.

“We’ve had to hire new staff to run all of the equipment and run the different things. The transition itself took probably about four weeks for us to get everything once we realized this was going to be a long term thing,” said Pastor Wilhite.

Music plays a major role in the church-going experience, so naturally, the worship team had to make adjustments as well.

“The biggest thing is how to stay focused in that one zone to deliver your message as though you’re speaking to your best friend right out in front of you. That’s a really difficult thing for people who are not sort of in that mindset,” said Aldersgate United Methodist Church Music Director David Wallis.

Pastor Wilhite has had to make some adjustments of his own, especially when it comes to delivering his services to a church full of empty pews.

“You feed off the energy of what they have, and now when you’re the only one sitting here, and you have four people behind you and another couple of people there, you have to generate all of your own energy, and it’s extremely tiring,” said Pastor Wilhite.

Although it has not been easy, as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Abilene, the Aldersgate United Methodist Church made the necessary changes to help its community.

“Finding the balance between community and safety has been very difficult, but I think overall we’ve done a pretty good job, and we’re always brainstorming. Trying to find new ways of interacting and keeping people connected to one another,” said Pastor Wilhite.

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