Seven years ago, when White Memorial Presbyterian Church (WMPC) in Raleigh began to offer live streaming services, the germ of an idea started to take shape at one of the luncheons the pastors have periodically with White Memorial members residing at Glenaire: “Why don’t we offer a satellite service for Glenaire, a Presbyterian-sponsored continuing care retirement community?'”

After conversations between WMPC pastoral staff and Glenaire administrators it was agreed this was, indeed, a viable way to offer worship to residents. Ellen, who resides in a cottage at Glenaire, was a natural fit to be the liaison to broadcast the live streaming worship services in a general-purpose room.

With her technical capabilities, Ellen has created a model that makes worship at Glenaire special. And, for those usually 15 to 30 residents who are no longer able to attend church, the live stream service offers a sense of belonging and the bond of worshiping together.

Beyond the physical aspect of connecting a device to broadcast a WIFI signal, Ellen oversees room set-up and ensures bulletins and Glory to God hymnals are in place. While some who attend the service at Glenaire are WMPC members, all residents are invited and welcomed. Together they experience the Passing of the Peace, singing of hymns, the Affirmation of Faith and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper when offered, as though they were alongside those worshiping in the sanctuary.

As with any technology, glitches happen. But, through it all, Ellen and other attendees find ways to utilize their smartphones to recapture lost connections. And, if all else fails, Matthew Thompson, a WMPC member whose grandmother worships at Glenaire, has been known to step in and give a beautiful benediction.

With a generous heart and spirit, Ellen takes the responsibility of providing a satellite worship service seriously. There are times when she would prefer to worship in the sanctuary but realizes a greater need to ensure that residents of Glenaire have the opportunity to share in the worship experience, too.

Moving Forward

This fall, WMPC will switch from an internet connection to an AppleTV channel to make the technology much simpler.

Glenaire will be the first to try, and if all goes well, will allow Ellen a bit more flexibility, and provide a successful model to duplicate in other communities.

In addition, WMPC’s newly formed Agape Care Teams, where homebound members receive friendship and support from trained church members, is one more way we are connecting church to home.

We are grateful for Ellen, and those like her, who embrace technology and use it to spread our ministry. Thank you, Ellen, for being an inspiration for all of us.

Article provided by:

Kathy Howell

Communications Director

White Memorial Presbyterian Church

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