“Seven Sayings” Good Friday Service Brings Movement Together Virtually
By Rebekah Corwin
Rev. Dr. Kevin Wesley Earley now pastors Community Church of God in Atlanta, Georgia. But, as a pastor for seventeen years at Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit, Michigan, he was exposed annually on Good Friday to what’s known as the Seven Last Words Service. This year, using the intriguing theme “Seven Sayings of the Savior,” a similar, virtual event coordinated by Earley proved providential in bringing together powerful voices from across the country for one night of inspirational worship.
The “Seven Sayings of the Savior” in Scripture are noted as:
- Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
- Today you will be with me in paradise.
- Woman, behold, thy son! Behold, thy mother!
- My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
- I thirst.
- It is finished.
- Father, into thy hands, I commend my spirit.
Since 1954, Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit has partnered with churches in the community to host a Good Friday service. Each of the pastors would switch sayings every year, giving their congregations their interpretations of the words Jesus spoke in the New Testament. In light of pandemic restrictions, Earley decided to ask six of his close friends to help host the service virtually. Earley ran with this concept and used COVID-19 precautions to the wider church’s advantage and blessing.
Over the years, Earley has stayed in touch with six of the brightest Church of God pastors who minister in different parts of the country. These men connect almost daily, offering each other pieces of advice and motivation. As these pastors from far and wide have stayed connected and it “reminds the Christian community that there can be seven pastors who are friends and root for each other without being in competition with one another. It shows brotherhood and unity.” The unity of this group of friends is what laid the foundation for the Sayings of a Savior Good Friday service on April 2, 2021.
As Easter began to draw nearer, Earley connected the dots between his group of colleagues and the Seven Sayings of a Savior. Earley then came up with the idea of hosting a virtual Saying of the Savior service. With the help of his six friends, Earley was ready to bring the Seven Sayings of a Savior to a large audience.
After the birth of this concept is when the real work began. Each pastor had to film their Saying of the Savior service. They received a time limit, and they each had a soloist, praise team, or poet from their congregation perform. After the sermons were all filmed, they were compiled into one video. The compilation was created by Earley’s tech-savvy wife, Precious. She also worked to promote the service through short videos and professional graphics she created. The Facebook group used to promote the event was hosted by the National Association of the Church of God (NACOG). The goal of having the event hosted by the NACOG was to keep the event in one central location.
The event was available online to everyone with internet access. They also provided an option for members to call into the service. This opportunity allowed some of the older members to be a part of the service. Those in attendance could also comment on the Facebook event, giving the audience a way to display their joy for the season.
The event was certainly a success, logging over 3,000 views on YouTube. The virtual service reached many people on Good Friday (April 2) and long after the event. This event can still be viewed at any time on the National Association of the Church of God YouTube channel or by following this link.
Not only was he able to give his sermon, but his pastor friends were also able to minister. Rev. Earley said, “Out of the seven of us, we have a wide range, and you can see that during the service. Amongst us, our churches range from 20 people to 2,000, and the delivery and production were different depending on our respective locations.”
Besides Earley, the other pastors who ministered were:
- Rev. Monté L. G. Dillard, Sr., First Church of God Christian Life Center, Evanston, Illinois.
- Pastor Geremy Dixon, Center of Hope, Inglewood & Sherman Oaks, California.
- Pastor Erwin Lee, First Church of God of Hollywood, Hollywood, Florida.
- Rev. Brian E. Mack, Market Avenue Church of God, East St. Louis, Illinois.
- Rev. Baron C. Mashack, 15th Avenue Church of God, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
- Pastor Kevin R. Osbourne, Refuge Church of God, Brooklyn, New York.
Across states and time zones, seven ministers were able to bring the word to over 3,000 people. A virtual event of this size speaks to the unity and collaboration of the Church of God. While COVID-19 brought many hardships, it also brought new ways for Christians to connect. For more online services, check out the NACOG YouTube channel or Facebook page.
Rebekah Corwin is a senior from New Albany, double majoring in public relations and psychology. Corwin is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, a student-run public relations agency at Anderson University.