By Kara Witherow, Editor
If you drive through downtown Brooklet, you may catch an impromptu porch concert put on by Marjorie and John Frazier.
In mid-October, John, playing guitar, and Marjorie, both members of Brooklet United Methodist Church, surprised neighbors and passers-by with a stirring and heartfelt rendition of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”
The Fraziers, Brooklet UMC choir members, also filmed themselves and sent the video to music director Mandy Mitchell. Mitchell used the Frazier’s video in the church’s live and online worship services and posted it to the church’s Facebook page.
It’s one way the church’s music ministry has reimagined itself in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Like most – if not all – South Georgia congregations, Brooklet UMC ceased in-person worship services in March. The choir wasn’t able to gather and still isn’t meeting in person, and it’s been a challenge to rethink the music ministry, Mitchell said.
But music is important, and with a lot of prayer, creativity, and flexibility, the congregation has embraced this new reality.
Mitchell reached out to choir members and asked them to use their phones to film themselves playing the piano, singing, or playing instruments. Videos began to fill her inbox, and with help from her husband and Josh Burnham, Brooklet UMC’s worship leader, she used them in the church’s two worship services.
“It’s about sharing your gifts, and that’s what we asked them to do, to share,” Mitchell said. “And who knows how God will use it.”
And while the congregation began meeting in-person again on June 21, many still aren’t ready or feel comfortable to be in a crowd and choose to worship online, said pastor Rev. Chip Strickland. Incorporating the submitted videos into the worship services connects those who are worshipping in person and those who are worshiping virtually.
“It’s a special time that we can stay in touch with folks who aren’t there in person with us,” he said. “It’s not quite the same, but it’s got us back together, and that’s the main thing.”
While there have certainly been challenges, Mitchell said there have been positives to the pandemic, too. Several church and choir members who hadn’t previously volunteered have offered to serve because they want to see ministries they care about flourish and continue.
“It’s been a tough road, but it’s been a journey worth fighting for,” she said. “I just can’t imagine a church without music, without a way of lifting praises.”