Rhode Island Congregation Learns to Thrive During COVID-19 Crisis
By Kevin Spear
What do you do when the church you launched in less than a year is suddenly unable to meet? Through the grace of God, you learn to thrive. Pastor Tim Quainoo found himself in this situation when COVID-19 shut down not only the ability to meet, but also the facilities in which they were meeting.
Pastors Tim and Jillian Quainoo launched the Providence, Rhode Island, church in April 2019 at a school. The church had steadily grown from fifteen committed leaders to nearly one hundred congregants when the COVID-19 forced the school facilities to close in March of 2020.
Pastor Quainoo, like so many pastors, had to think fast. He began using Facebook Live to broadcast his sermons. “There were some challenges and disruptions in the beginning,” says Pastor Quainoo. “We had no idea what we were doing. But one thing I learned early on is to not be afraid and just try it.”
Pastor Quainoo has used his home Internet to broadcast weekly sermons. “One thing that has surprised us is we’ve experienced exponential growth. We began with one hundred viewers engaged. Now we can have up to a thousand viewers on a video.”
The growth has occurred not only within the local reach of the church, but it has also come internationally. “We have had viewers from Uganda and Ghana,” said Pastor Quainoo. The church has also been blessed that giving has increased during the pandemic.
Pastor Quainoo has had the following observations while pivoting during the pandemic:
• No church is too small to launch an online presence.
• Just because you are online doesn’t mean you have to fancy graphics or special effects, and
• You must add value to the viewer, not just present a series of announcements.
Of course, the pandemic hasn’t made a personal touch and pastoral care irrelevant. The congregation had at least three families that experienced COVID-19. Pastor Quainoo said, “Staying connected throughout COVID-19 was particularly where my wife, Pastor Jill Quainoo, led the church. She helped those three families coordinate grocery delivery and receiving PPE (personal protective equipment). She also taught congregants how to socially distance and stay healthy and active under quarantine.” Thankfully, the three families have recovered, and no lives were lost.
The church has made Matthew 5:16 its key scripture during the crisis. Pastor Quainoo has challenged his congregation, “What does shining your light look like during a quarantine? What does it mean to not just ‘be nice,’ but to be a light to the world?”
The church will be unable to meet until at least January 2021 due to local restrictions and because that they had been meeting in a school. Since this school now needs extra storage, the church will not be able to store its items there. They would appreciate prayer on this matter.
Kevin Spear has worked for Warner Press (now Warner Christian Resources) and has regularly contributed time and talent to the work of Church of God Ministries. He is a ministry partner with his wife Paula, an ordained minister in the Church of God.
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 (top) photo: Congregation members gather for prayer, pre-pandemic.