Blue Mountains churches go online to connect at Easter

This Easter, churches have turned to technology to spread the Easter message.

At Springwood Uniting Church, Reverends Graeme and Leigh Gardiner have been fine-tuning their IT skills over the past few weeks as they livestream their Sunday services via Facebook.

What started as streaming the service from a smart phone, has turned into a more elaborate production and a better quality viewing for those who tune in.

They've been getting about 300 views on Sunday services, a significant increase on the regular 70 people who attended the church in person every Sunday before coronavirus restrictions.

Their Easter service will be livestreamed from 9.30am on Sunday via their Facebook page Springwood Uniting Church. It will include readings and music from an organist.

"It is a significant season for people of faith. It sits right at the core of faith for us. It would have been devastating if we couldn't have found a way of connecting with people," Rev Graeme Gardiner said.

Afterwards the couple will be hand-delivering printed copies of the service for about 20 people who haven't been able to tune in.

Rev Gardiner said since the introduction of coronavirus restrictions, people are really hankering for human contact.

"There are some who are feeling it very hard, especially people living on their own. I know of a lady who was sitting on her front verandah so she can watch the cars driving past, she was so longing for human contact," he said.

The couple have been talking to parishioners over the phone and engaging online with bible studies and morning teas held via the video conferencing platform Zoom, and the feedback they're getting is that it's all helping.

Other churches in the Blue Mountains are streaming their Good Friday and Easter Sunday services online, including Blue Mountains Catholic, Lower Mountains Anglican Parish, C3 New Hope Blue Mountains, and City Church at Mt Riverview, who has been encouraging parishioners to join them in celebrating Easter online, by tagging them in posts.

"We would love to lead you in communion this Good Friday as we link together online. You can join with us in communion by preparing some bread and juice to partake together with your family," they shared on their Facebook page.

"The emblems that we use are not sacred, so feel free to be creative in your family. It's what we are remembering that matters most and that is Jesus body broken and blood poured out for us!"

At Katoomba Lighthouse Church, there will be a pre-recorded message uploaded to Facebook at 6pm on Good Friday, followed by Communion at 10am on Easter Sunday, where everyone is asked to prepare crackers or bread and juice or wine, to join in a Zoom meeting.

St Hilda's Anglican Church and Springwood Baptist Church have been livestreaming regular services on their website, Glenbrook Baptist Church has been using YouTube links for their services, and Springwood Presbyterian Church has sermons available on their podcast site.

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