For relocated Christians, virtual worship options help bridge the COVID-19 gap.
By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle
James and Candice Wiser’s church family in Southern California shed tears this past summer as the couple and their two young daughters prepared to move to West Texas.
The Camarillo Church of Christ, about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles, organized a socially distanced going-away party in its tree-shaded parking lot just off the Ventura Freeway.
“It was really emotionally gutting,” James Wiser said of the hug-free send-off. “They gave us gifts. They prayed over us.”
Then — even as the couple settled into new jobs 1,300 miles away at Abilene Christian University — the Wisers kept showing up for the Camarillo church’s Sunday service.
At 10 a.m. West Coast time, between Bible study and worship, the 100-member congregation enjoys 30 minutes of virtual fellowship.
“We have a Zoom free-for-all where there are 40 squares on the screen, and we all talk to each other, and that’s from noon to 12:30 p.m. our time,” said James Wiser, who joined ACU as dean of library information services and educational technology.
Candice Ortbals-Wiser, an ACU political science professor who taught previously at Pepperdine University, said, “So, during coffee and doughnuts, everyone watches us eat lunch and talk to them, and then we have service after our lunch.”
In some ways, it’s as if the husband, wife and their daughters — 5-year-old Etta and 3-year-old Marian — never left.
This story appears in the April edition of The Christian Chronicle.