Handwashing Hymns: Detroit Church Worships through Pandemic
By Carl Stagner
Did you know that you can worship while washing your hands? Metropolitan Church of God would answer, “Of course, you can!” Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has shone the spotlight on the importance of proper handwashing, the Detroit, Michigan, congregation has published a handy tool that effectively combines washing and worship. Featuring song titles like “Be an Overcomer,” “Blessed Assurance,” and “We Have a Hope,” the single-page document includes the lyrics of the choruses of select hymns which, when sung at standard tempo, coincide with scrubbing one’s hands for twenty seconds.
While “cleanliness is next to godliness” isn’t Scripture, many are considering such sentiment especially valuable. The serious nature of the present pandemic requires careful attention, caution, and fervent prayer. But, in an effort to lighten the mood and provide something very practical for members of the congregation, Metropolitan Church of God exercised their creativity.
“There’s so much information out there about how to protect ourselves from the virus,” Pastor Kevin Early explains. “Handwashing to twenty-second choruses is a concept that we saw implemented at a local university. We didn’t reinvent the wheel on this one; we just redesigned it for the church. As simple as it is, using beloved hymns to prompt #WorshipWhileWashing is one way we’re encouraging members to maintain both physical and spiritual health during this time.”
The inspirational resource was made available to the church via their website, which they’ve updated to address the needs that have surfaced since the outbreak. In fact, the church has devoted a separate web page entirely to helping parishioners through the pandemic.
“I would love to say we had a pandemic ‘continuity of operations’ plan, and that the roll-out of the web page was simply part of the plan, but that wasn’t the case,” Kevin explains. “When the coronavirus hit our area, we knew members would have questions about its impact on the life of the church. Our COVID-19 response and resource page was launched as a way to keep them informed. From there, we built out our communications, across all platforms, to funnel related inquiries back to the website. We determined early on that we would not allow this pandemic to interfere with our mission. We have the same mission, just a new method. Utilizing our website to maintain the life of the church remotely is just one tool we’re using to fulfill the call the Lord has for us.”
Like most churches, not everyone at Metropolitan Church of God is tech-savvy. Pastor Kevin explains that they’re doing whatever they can, so nobody falls under the radar.
“We recognize that our congregation is digitally diverse, with many parishioners who are advanced in their knowledge of the web and others who are beginners,” he says. “For members who may not be tech-savvy, we offer conference call opportunities. Members can call in to participate in Sunday school sessions and Bible study…. During the class, they can listen in and comment along with others who attend the class online via Zoom. In addition to these e-learning opportunities, I divided our entire phone directory among our ministers, and gave them a bare-bones script so they could call, check on, and pray for members. The ministers give me updates about members who are not on my list.”
Numerous calls to pray for pastors—who have never dealt with a crisis quite like this—are getting shared over and over on social media today. Pastor Kevin recognizes the strain that ministry can be without a pandemic; current crises make it all the more challenging.
“In the same way Joshua had no experience when it came time for him to lead Israel in the Promised Land,” he concludes, “today’s pastors have never pastored during a pandemic. We can trust that the same God who gave Joshua the wisdom, creativity, and discernment he needed will also empower us for this moment and the new world this pandemic leaves behind. One way to cope, manage, pool creative ideas, and find encouragement is by having frequent conversations with other pastors. To this end, the following pastors have been invaluable to me during this time: Bishop Timothy Clarke, Pastor Monte Dillard, Pastor Geremy Dixon, Pastor Erwin Lee, Pastor Kevin Osbourne, Pastor Brian Mack, and Pastor Baron Mashack.”
Download the “handwashing hymns” resource (PDF) here. Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway. Feature image ©
Can Stock Photo / brandonaaron.