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Finding Blessings in a Pandemic: Holy Temple COGIC sees opportunity to grow, learn

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By Riley Utley

Finding blessings during this time has helped the Holy Temple Church of God in Christ in Spokane highlight the ways this pandemic has allowed them grow and learn.

“The coronavirus has impacted us greatly,” said Ezra Kinlow, the pastor of the church. “It has made us do new things we’ve never done before and it’s been hard. But it’s been a blessing also.”

Rev. Ezra Kinlow

When the pandemic began all places of faith had to close their doors forcing churches to find new and innovative ways to interact with their congregations.

“As an administrator the things that I’ve noticed that have changed is of course, if you’re not going to gather together physically for the services that we have that is going to change how the support of the church is received,” said Wayne Washington an elder and church administrator. “But one of the things I’ve been grateful for and this is the thing I love about God is that he always prepares you for what’s about to take place.”

New Ways To Interact

At the Holy Temple Church of God in Christ the leadership has found ways to not only interact with their longtime members but bring in new ones as well through the use of social media and telecommunication.

They said that the increase in their numbers is because people can access their services on any day of the week rather than just on Sunday — this is something they hope to continue once they are allowed to go back to in person services.

“I know for our congregation even though we’re a large congregation we’ve always felt like a family,” said Adell Whitehead, the church secretary. “If COVID-19 has done anything it’s brought us closer. I’m sending out more texts to our members about when services and calls.”

Using Technology

The church has been able to help their congregation set up the technology needed to attend the virtual services and find togetherness even if it’s via the internet or phone.

At their weekly service it’s not just one person speaking their music department has found a way to make sure they can bring music into their worship.

“Typically, we would meet up on Thursday night and have rehearsal,” said Claudell Whitman, the church minister of music. “One of the things we’ve had to do is figure out ways that we can still get worship music going. Our musician actually works at Sacred Heart and he’s on the frontline. He didn’t feel comfortable coming into the sanctuary and he ended up playing the tracks and singing to tracks while practicing social distancing.”

What’s Next

Moving forward they will continue to follow state protocols and will open their doors when the state deems it safe to do so.

In the meantime, they will continue to post their services on Facebook and YouTube and hold teleconferences for Sunday school and Bible study. Recently their first drive-in service in the church’s parking lot.

They have also been using this time to reach out to the community even more and help in any way they can.

“The church has been very active also in supporting the community with food distribution to people who are out of work,” Kinlow said. “We make phone calls throughout the city to ask how they are doing, ask what we can do for them and what the church can do to bless them.”

Supporting the Community

Overall, they want not only their congregation but everyone to know that even though they cannot meet in person they are still here and want to support the community in any way they can.

“I think that’s the message that our pastor teaches us and that we strive to fulfill: ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel,’” Washington said. “So, even though we might not be able to physically go but social media has enabled us to electronically go. As we look forward to the time where we can come together in person and physically meet the mission doesn’t change, it stays the same. The devices and the technology might change but the mission does not change.”

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About Riley Utley

Riley Utley is a rising senior at Gonzaga University studying journalism with minors in communication studies and political science. For the past two years, she has worked for The Gonzaga Bulletin as a news editor and is now serving as the editor-in-chief of the publication. Utley has also written for The Inlander and The Spokesman-Review. Her favorite topics to cover are the performing arts and education but loves writing any story she can get. On top of writing, she has also spent two years working for Spokane Public Schools. From the minute she was assigned her first story Utley has known that her true passion is storytelling and has enjoyed and learned from every story she has been assigned. When she is not at school or working on a story she enjoys watching the newest shows Netflix has to offer, watching Gonzaga basketball, continuing her quest to find the best coffee in Spokane and traveling.

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