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Monday, April 6, 2020
Contributed photoA sign is posted outside First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua, 3005 Front St., for online services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 15, the Rev. Christine K. Kass uses Facebook livestreaming, Zoom and YouTube to preach. Contributed photoA sign is posted outside First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua, 3005 Front St., for online services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 15, the Rev. Christine K. Kass uses Facebook livestreaming, Zoom and YouTube to preach.

Hokendauqua church uses technology to connect with its congregation

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 by CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE in Local News

As COVID-19 virus precautions increase across the Lehigh Valley, churches are looking for ways to continue to connect with their congregations that don’t involve in-person gatherings. One local church is capitalizing on the available technology to join its members together for regular worship without violating any safety rules.

First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua, 3005 Front St., has been using Facebook livestreaming, Zoom and YouTube to connect with parishioners, a move the pastor calls “unprecedented but successful.”

“None of us has ever dealt with any thing this before,” said the Rev. Christine K. Kass, pastor of the church. “When we realized we could no longer risk gathering in person for Sunday morning worship, we decided to turn to technology to help us out.”

The first Sunday the church met online was March 15. Sitting in front of her laptop, Kass read scriptures, gave a sermon and prayed while others listened from the safety of their own homes.

While the Hokendauqua church generally has about 50 people in worship on the average Sunday, the online service had nearly 300.

“People logged in from all over the state, all over the country, and we even had a few from oversees pop in to listen,” Kass said. “It was surreal.”

First Presbyterian is continuing to broadcast its services through Facebook livestreaming, as well as uploading videos of the sermon to YouTube and sharing them via the church’s website, hokeypres.org.

In addition, Kass is doing brief “fireside chats,” in which she records videos of herself offering informal spiritual insights.

“It’s another way for us to stay connected between Sundays,” she said. “People have told me they find it comforting and a nice break from all the bad news around us.”

Some of the church’s planned events can’t be done virtually, such as baptisms, but Kass said other events are surprisingly easy to adapt to an online platform.

“I am so glad to be part of a church that is so forward thinking,” she said. “We have a tremendous group of church leaders who know this is the time for us to step forward as a faith community and show that the church is not just a building — the church is us.”

First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua has been in existence since 1854. At that time, seven members of First Presbyterian Church of Catasauqua left that congregation to start the Hokendauqua church in order to keep up with the increasing population of the area.

The community-focused church participates in a number of local activities, often partnering with other churches in the area.