17 April, 2024

COVID Christmas

by | 22 December, 2021 | 2 comments

As we reach the midway point of leaders sharing their favorite Christmas memories, Tina Wilson tells how Ekklesia Christian Church in Conway, S.C., overcame a major challenge posed by COVID-19 last Christmas.

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By Tina Wilson

Earlier this month, my family went to dinner at a churrascaria to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday. We eat there once a year, on Dec. 12. We did this same thing last year, but we prayed our 2021 outing wouldn’t lead to an unhealthy repeat of last year’s events.

Shortly after our party in 2020, we all started to feel sick. Four days later—on Dec. 16—my brother-in-law and husband, both pastors in our church, tested positive for COVID-19. With 13 worship services scheduled over the next 14 days, the lead pastor and community pastor, plus the student ministry director, worship arts director, social media director (that’s me!), two vocalists and keyboardists, a bassist, and at least a half-dozen members of the kids’ choir were all in quarantine.

Production and sermons were a huge concern, of course, but not the whole of it. Our church also was in the midst of the most audacious expansion in our short history. From the time our church launched in 2014 until we moved into a permanent facility in 2019, we were a mobile operation. And last year—in 2020—we were given the opportunity to purchase two properties next to the church building, an acquisition that tripled both our acreage and square footage under roof. This was a huge faith move, and we launched a generosity initiative called “Outgrowth” to raise funds for the purchase. During our 14-day quarantine, two things related to this expansion were happening:

• contract deadline for closing on the property acquisition

• “Commitment Sunday” services for the Outgrowth campaign

CHRISTMAS MISSTEPS
Our church has had a history of Christmas blunders. Our first Christmas was inside a college auditorium. The thermostat was controlled remotely, and we brought in a fake fireplace for ambience. It turned out those fireplaces are for more than just looks. It also gave off a ton of heat in a room that was already blazing hot (and beyond our control). The next year, a sorority booked a meeting in the college auditorium and our services—with very little notice—were bumped to a classroom that accommodated less than a third of the auditorium’s occupancy. During our four Christmases as a mobile church, we experimented with times, locations, and service flows, but it was never what we had hoped.

In 2019, we thought we’d finally get it right since we had a secure location of our own. Alas, we grossly underestimated the number of guests and planned way too few services. People couldn’t get in or out or park or sit. It was a logistical mess.

Isn’t it just like God, though, to remind us how insufficient we are and how fully we need to rely on him?

OVERCOMING COVID
In 2020, the year so many of our leaders were forced to take a seat (literally stay at home and watch from a couch), the body of Christ came together and hosted what I believe are the best Christmas services we’ve ever had.

An elder brought in a team to decorate the stage. A production crew set up a camera and microphones in our backyard where my husband recorded a Christmas message. Our care pastor read the Christmas story from Scripture. The church gave generously, placing their gifts in mangers set up in the auditorium. And the church leadership team stood outside our patio door to witness the signing of closing documents for the expansion purchase by our masked, gloved, COVID-positive pastor.

Tina Wilson serves as social media director at Ekklesia Christian Church in Conway, South Carolina. Her husband, Matt Wilson, is lead pastor with Ekklesia.

2 Comments

  1. Mary Szirmae

    Awesome Tina! Loved this statement/question: Isn’t it just like God, though, to remind us how insufficient we are and how fully we need to rely on him? He shows up every time we need Him when there is absolutely no possible human way what we are in need of to be met other than His involvement in opening all the doors we need opened, and He does <3

  2. Tom Jasiewicz

    Great Article! God has blessed Ekklesia with amazing gifts that will carry on forever.
    We are so blessed to be a part of this wonderful
    Journey and can’t wait to see what the future brings.
    God Bless All and Merry Christmas

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