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A Different Kind of Worship Service

Amboy United Methodist Church in North Little Rock, Arkansas was searching for a way to reach its Hispanic community. The Rev. Candace Barron, who is also the senior pastor of Gardner Memorial United Methodist Church said in November they came up with the idea for broadcasting their sermons trough Facebook.

"We started to reach the Hispanic community, people we haven't actually seen her for church servies," Barron said.

Stephen Copley, the executive director of Interfaith Arkansas and one of the pastors at Amboy, said Facebook might reach those who aren't coming into the building.

"We thought it might be a good way to get out into the community," Copley said. "The genesis of how it started was really an attempt to reach people and use our technology to first of all share the good news of God's grace and create a fiscal worship experience."

The Monday Night Live at Amboy UMC is held every Mondat at 6:30 p.m. for 30 minutes of prayer, Bible study and a thought provoking meditation on life. The event is geared towards the Hispanic community, but it is also for those who have a difficult time getting to churchon Sunday mornings due to disabilities, work or other reasons.

"We wanted to expand our footprint in a differnet way and be accessible to those who can't physically make it to church," Barron said. "This is a way to reach them, where they felt safe and not have to worry about being picke up by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)."

In November the service reached 84 people, and there were 41 video views, six likes and multiple comments, according to Copley. He said he is pleased with those numbers.

"The hardest thing is, we don't know who they are an how consistenly they are watching," Copley said. "The main idea behind it is that folks are busy and life gets chaotic, but somehow they can still build a relationship with God."

He said it is difficult to build a relationship compared to those who actually come into the building, but at least in this way, they have some kind of connection with people.

"To me, it's exciting," Copley said. "It is a real contemporary way to reach people. Even in the early church, even Jesus proclaimed the gospel in different ways, and that is the driving force in what we are doing.

"We are planting seeds, some of those we may never know, but someone's life could be changed," Copley said, "And that's the heart of the good news and that is what is exciting about it."

Amboy UMC has a membership count of 200 to 250, but worship attendance is usually about 20. Copley said the Facebook ministry might assist the church in growing.

"We have been here since the 1950s and this is just another way to engage a community by adding a different kind of worship service," he said.

Sam Pierce, featured contributor, The Arkansas United Methodist Magazine, January 2019 issue

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