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Streaming Faith: Churches head online to get the message out during COVI-19 pandemic

The clock was drawing near midnight last Saturday night and Cornerstone Church Lead Pastor Dave Simerson was starting to sweat.

When the outbreak of COVID-19 started to limit church services last week, Simerson and the rest of the staff at Cornerstone Church in Austin stayed ahead of the ball by setting up a livestream, where they were able to put their Sunday service on Facebook.

This week, they’ve been posting live messages every morning to anyone who needs an uplifting moment and services will continue to be live streamed in the future.

While Simerson thrives on speaking to a packed house at Cornerstone, he’s accepted the fact that it’s time to find a new way to preach the word of God — for now.

Chloe Emberson and Eliezer Caraballo rehearse Thursday morning at Cornerstone Church. The two were preparing to be filmed for an online Sunday service. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“This is a very difficult time for people,” Simerson said. “Necessity is the mother of all invention and I would even say for innovation. We’re looking forward to taking the walls off of the church and it’s possible people could feel more involved with the daily interactions. It’s possible that more people would check out our stuff online. The internet is flooded with churches that are doing great online things right now and we’re thankful for that ingenuity that God has placed in the Kingdom.”

While last week’s service aired without any music, Simerson is continuing to innovate and he’s looking to get an acoustic song on this week’s service. The goal is to keep people connected in the current stretch of social isolation.

“Just because you’re separated, doesn’t mean you need to be isolated,” he said. “We just want people to stay connected.”

The isolation away from churches may cause fear or panic for some, but Father James Steffes of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church said there is always a way to let the Lord in. Steffes said the church is looking to livestream its services online and encourages the faithful to pray the stations of the cross.

“It’s certainly a time for people to go deeper into faith,” Steffes said. “They can open scripture and pray with God’s living word. God is love and perfect love casts out all fear. People have a lot of fear and confusion. God is with us.”