Second in a series on how Loveland area pastors and ministers found ways to reach their assembly: Epiphany United Methodist Church Pastor, Rev. Kathy Currier talks about reaching the church family during COVID-19
By: Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH (May 10, 2020) – The Rev. Kathy Currier is Senior Pastor of Epiphany United Methodist Church (EUMC) in Loveland-Miami Township. Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown, she estimates an average of 500 people attended weekly services there.
Rev. Kathy Currier, Pastor, Epiphany United Methodist Church, Loveland, OH (Provided)
Currier is not alone in her efforts to shepherd the flock at EUMC, she enjoys the assistance of an associate pastor, and pastors for the care ministry and youth pastor; as well as director’s for the music ministries, and children’s ministries. Still, when Holy Week arrived COVID-19 had taken a toll for Currier.
“During Holy Week, we had one pastor with COVID, one pastor who had potentially been exposed to her, who had to self-quarantine for 14 days; another pastor who self-quarantined because she has her own health issues,” said Currier. “That left me and our youth pastor. Thank goodness he was here. He and I did all the Holy Week Services. So, Holy Week was interesting this year.”
As if this year was not already interesting enough with the closing of churches and suspension of in-person church services with the pandemic restrictions. Currier and her staff at EUMC were not unprepared to minister to the EUMC spiritual community during a closure. In fact, they were already livestreaming Worship Services before the pandemic. Things were in place for them to pivot to being completely online services. She did not want to, and did not have to wait to see how others would reach their assembly.
“I want to look back and know we really led well,” Currier said. “We’re not waiting to see what other people do as much as we’re doing the right thing that we believe is the right thing for us.”
Those online services go beyond the Sunday Worship Services to reach the faith family of EUMC while they are not allowed to assemble in person. Currier provided a list of many ways they are staying connected, or even connecting with non-members to nurture their spiritual life and meet needs during COVID-19 restrictions.
EUMC uses Facebook Live and Livestreaming for:
- Sunday Evening Bible Study
- Lectio Divina Mon-Fri @ 8 p.m. (Reflective scripture reading & prayer)
- Midweek Noon Prayer
- Thursday’s with Pastor Kathy – time for people to “Zoom” in, have coffee with Kathy, and give her a chance to know how they’re doing
- Recording video’s weekly with Kathy and the other pastors to update the congregation on “news they need to know”
- The online Digital Bulletin provides links to all the opportunities to connect and offers an online prayer card people can submit confidentially
- The Youth Pastor has made and posted daily video’s to “YouTube” to stay connected with the youth
- The Contemporary Worship Team is collaborating separately recording creative worship music
- All forms of Social Media have been utilized to engage both youth and adults
- Small groups and Bible studies are meeting online with increased attendance
- Woship Pajama Jam for Jesus: Thursday’s 7 p.m. on Epiphany Facebook page (well attended)
- The music ministry created virtual Epiphany Hallelujah Chorus
Epiphany United Methodist Church, Loveland, OH (Chuck Gibson)
All of the digital, online, livestreaming and social media connection is intended to help the congregation stay connected with their faith family roots at Epiphany United Methodist Church. Currier has noticed the reach extending beyond the EUMC family.
“We really, as most churches, are seeing an uptick,” said Currier. “We see we are reaching more people. In some cases it’s people who don’t have their own church, or have their own church, but it’s not able to livestream and we’ve captured some of them.
Currier and her staff are working harder than ever. The Worship Service is now recorded pieces edited together. That takes more time recording and re-recording. She says they are pushing themselves, being adventurous, and that has enabled them to find ways to reach new people.
“I feel like what we’re giving, the people have loved,” she said. “One day it was the Emmaus Road story, so I went down and recorded on the bike path. I was doing Resurrection conversations with Jesus- post Resurrection. I did when He asked the Emmaus Road disciples: What are you talking about?”
Currier also recorded from a tomb-like area of a local cemetery for the Mary at the Tomb Resurrection morning, and recreated the “Upper Room” appearance of Jesus to the Disciples by recording in a little-known upper room of Epiphany United Methodist Church. She has taken advantage of the opportunity to do some fun things outside the sanctuary to keep things light during this difficult time. Now it’s time for Worship Service back into the sanctuary.
People are ready for services to get back in the sanctuary at Epiphany United Methodist Church (Provided)
“People are ready for it,” Currier said. “That was fun, now they’re ready to get back. I think there is some familiarity they like to see us in the sanctuary.”
Reaching out to EUMC family, and reaching more, has been a benefit of the high technology capabilities of today’s world. Currier says they’ve given the people both low tech and high tech.
Here is how low tech has helped keep their faith community together and spiritually healthy during COVID-19:
- Sending notes by mail to reach out
- Staff has divided up the directory making calls to check in, hear family prayer requests
- Children’s Director has made Packets each week w/ a story, activity, snack etc. parents pick-up for Children’s Moments at home along with us. Easter Weekend over 150 Packets with “Resurrection Eggs” were picked up and distributed
- Members making masks to meet area needs – currently the “Mask Ministry” has begun working to provide masks for church to have available when in-person Worship Services are able to resume
EUMC supports LIFE Food Pantry (Chuck Gibson)
EUMC Supports NEST (Chuck Gibson)
Pictures of the EUMC people in their seats helps Pastor Kathy see them while recording or livestreaming a Worship Service (Chuck Gibson)
Throughout the pandemic crisis in our community, EUMC has focused their support primarily with NEST and LIFE Food Pantry. Currier noted an overwhelmingly favorable response to support those local community resources. She has observed an “overwhelmingly positive” feedback from the people seeing us via livestream and recordings. Looking into a camera lens inside an empty sanctuary, not seeing them, is hard for her. To help with that, EUMC people sent photos of themselves which Currier printed and placed in the pews in their usual seat. She even goes out to sit next to the photo and records personal messages for them.
“Our message here is trying to bring hope,” said Currier. “Someone said the other day; you are the great hope-bringer. I see good things that came out of the pandemic. There are plenty of good things. Families are eating dinner together, fathers are playing with their sons; there is just a whole other side to it.”
Currier says all the good is a sermon coming soon. For now, the whole other side of it is a long conversation of what is yet to come. The opening – reopening of the churches. Bishops have offered guidance, but nothing is set in stone yet. EUMC has a full medical team, not to mention Rev. Kathy Currier was a nurse for 20 years before being ordained an elder in the Methodist Church. They are planning all the necessary changes to keep people safe when they open.
EUMC Senior Pastor, Rev. Kathy Currier during a livestream service. (Provided)
Currier says they will not rush to open at the risk of bringing harm to any member of Epiphany United Methodist Church. Caring for the people while closed, and again when they reopen, is first.
“Maybe not innovative, but we’ve done everything with excellence,” Currier concluded. “We’re making best decisions. We have intelligent people, not followers just because somebody else did something. We are always going to do the best thing, the safest thing for our people.”
Epiphany United Methodist Church is located at 6635 Loveland-Miamiville Road in Loveland, Ohio 45140. Reverend Kathy Currier is Senior Pastor.
Click here to connect with Epiphany United Methodist Church
Click here to watch Pajama Jam for Jesus on Epiphany Facebook
Click here to Watch & Listen to virtual Epiphany Hallelujah Chorus