However, Kiper and her collaborators at Dunlap United Methodist Church did more than that. They made a video that warmed the hearts of hundreds of people during a challenging period in U.S. history.
Set to the praise song, “Is He Worthy?” the video premiered on Pentecost Sunday and quickly captured more than 13,000 views. It was shared hundreds of times on Facebook.
Many viewers said the video made them cry.
“It shows the power of that song and the message,” said Kiper. “In all the chaos of the world right now, he is worthy of our praise and we are still connected through that.” (Story continues below.)
A certified lay minister, Kiper said she is a longtime follower of Christian musician Andrew Peterson, who co-wrote and recorded “Is He Worthy?” The Dunlap choir planned to sing the song during their Easter cantata on April 12.
Of course, the Easter cantata never happened. The COVID-19 pandemic caused suspension of all in-person worship services in Holston Conference beginning March 18.
Kiper was disappointed, but then she saw an inspirational video made by a Minnesota church using the Peterson song. Kiper decided to borrow the concept created by Mountain Lake Alliance Church for her own church.
“Everybody in our church hasn’t seen each other in a long time. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to see each other’s faces?'” Kiper said.
Over one week, church members came together to make the video happen. A group of about six members made signs for the song lyrics and then went “quarantine caroling.” They visited the homes of church members to sing hymns at a safe distance on their lawns. Then they recorded short videos on their smart phones.
Compiling the video clips of 61 church members with perfect timing to a four-and-a-half minute song is no easy feat for most people. Kiper gladly turned the tech challenge over to Annabelle Daniels after she heard her say, “I really like video editing.”
A rising sophomore majoring in dance at Southern Methodist University, Daniels said she learned how to edit videos in a dance production class this past year.
“I can’t believe how it’s taken off,” Daniels said of the finished video. “It’s incredible how many lives it has touched.”
The video was shared as online worship on May 31 -- in the midst of a weekend when other videos on social media showed U.S. cities and citizens in turmoil.
The May 25 death of George Floyd while in police custody sparked outrage and protests against racism and police brutality throughout the nation.
On top of that, the pandemic was still killing people after claiming more than 370,000 lives worldwide, including more than 100,000 in the U.S.
It was the right time for a homemade video with smiling faces and a song invoking the Heavenly Father, said the Rev. Leslie Daniels. “The message of the song was so timely."
The church members from Dunlap were happy, too.
“People that don’t even know us are being touched deeply with tears falling,” Daniels said, “so you can imagine what it meant to those in our congregation who haven’t seen each other in a while."
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Holston Conference includes 864 United Methodist congregations in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and North Georgia.