Blog Post by
Janice McMillen
Presbytery Communications Associate

When the COVID19 Pandemic hit, our presbytery was ready. In the summer of 2019, the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy began utilizing Zoom Web Conferencing to host meetings. They decided it was important to allow commissioners, congregant guests, and pastors, from a geographical distance, the ability to join meetings remotely and still feel connected and heard, as if they were present in the meeting room. I am now thankful that our presbytery made that decision.
In late February of 2020 it became clear that for the safety and health, to avoid COVID19 spread, we needed to change our mission and ministry in a larger spectrum. In our journey of 2020, we had reached the gravel bar of a deep stream. We could sink, attempt a dangerous jump over or we could wade right in.
In chaos, in challenges faced, and in fear unchecked we can become overwhelmed. That is easy to do, and I am guilty of doing that myself, but it also forces us into making a choice of either attempting to jump the stream, or wade right in and get wet. I, in my adult years, am not that athletic so wading into the stream was my only option. I am thankful to our congregations who joined us in the stream and those who will in the future.
The congregations of our presbytery are diverse in many ways, so the challenges they face technologically are also diverse. In some churches there is little, slow or no bandwidth, some have no consistent week to week pastoral leadership, some have financial challenges that make purchasing technological resources outright, almost impossible, and some were uncertain their age allowed them to successful learn how to use new technology.
Zoom, audio/visual elements, live streaming cameras, Facebook and Instagram Live, etc. are useful tools that have allowed us to meet, worship, fellowship, study and support one another in a variety of ways. Creativity and passion have been crucial, as well as the presbytery technology grants.
The presbytery in two waves, made technology grants available to our member congregations, so that they could maintain and sustain their relationships within their congregation and community. Below, and in the coming weeks’ newsletters you will find a brief statement from one congregation on how those grants helped their ministry and mission.
We continue to pray for all our congregations’ mission and ministries into 2021, and though no doubt the year will be filled with challenges, it will also be filled with testimonies of overcoming those challenges with unity, strength and purpose.
Let us wade into 2021 together….
“The past year has been a challenge to every church, but, with the help of several volunteers from the congregation and a technology grant from the presbytery, St. Mark rose to the challenge. We created an online video devotion that runs three days a week called The St. Mark Spark. We also expanded our video capabilities in the sanctuary and are now able to perform multiple shots of pastors, liturgists, and musicians. This helps to make the service look more professional and has allowed members and guests to feel like they are in this sacred space even as we must remain separated. St. Mark is very thankful to the presbytery for this grant and for helping us to share Christ’s love in new ways.” St. Mark Presbyterian Church, Ballwin, Missouri
Janice McMillen
Communications Associate


  • Posted January 5, 2021 6:41 pm
    Kathy Sherrick

    Janice, I liked your blog column and analogy about wading into the water!
    I do feel kind of sorry for the congregations that face limitations and obstacles.

    • Posted January 5, 2021 9:22 pm
      Janice McMillen

      I am prayerful that churches who struggle with technological challenges, let us know and possibly partner with a church that is well versed in technology. We could and should be resource and support for one another.

  • Posted January 6, 2021 11:12 am
    Barbara G Willock

    Janice ~ When I chaired the Presbytery’s COR/N I so appreciated your membership on it and mourned our loss when you became “staff” and had to resign. I knew at the time it was definitely the right move for everyone involved. It’s nice to be right!
    You have so many gifts for ministry and you have given them so freely that the entire presbytery has benefited from your passion for the mission of the church and your amazing communication and technology skills. Thank you for the many ways you make the coming kin-dom visible and enable all of us to do likewise.
    PS ~ Zoom sure is better than the phone in the middle of the table when you called in from Steelville to join our meetings!

    • Posted January 7, 2021 11:37 am
      Janice McMillen

      Thank you Barbara. I shared with someone just this week, that our challenges faced are given to us to validate how strong we really are. The scars from some of those challenges, both mental and physical, are our trophies. We will be strong, as long as we remain united. Peace be with you!

  • Posted January 9, 2021 10:26 am
    Bertha H Larez

    Thank you Janice for this update on our Presbytery status regarding technology needs during this time. As a member of St. Mark I have seen the positive change in our on-line service and “Spark”. I wasn’t aware that was from a presbytery grant. The Presbytery is fortunate to have you and your skills. Peace.

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