New interactive worship service starts Saturday
By KIMBERLY PIÑA CHRONICLE CORRESPONDENT
Sept. 2, 2009, 1:42PMSuzanne Rehak For the ChronicleChurch of the Holy Apostles, 1225 S. Grand Parkway, will hold Saturday one-hour interactive contemporary services with a 5 p.m. browsing/dinner and a 6-7 p.m. service, using Twitter. Donna Matthews, the church’s pastoral assistant, uses her PC to ask a question of the Rev. Darrel Proffitt to demonstrate how the interactive service might work.
While some preachers may frown upon the use of cell phones and laptops in church on Sundays, one Katy-area pastor is encouraging people to keep their wireless devises on so they connect through the Internet and social networking sites during a new service.
Starting Sept. 12, Church of the Holy Apostles, 1225 West Grand Parkway South, will kick off its first Saturday evening service called The Gathering Place. The 6 p.m. service will feature the same elements of traditional church including music, preaching, communion and prayer as well as an interactive component that will allow members and visitors to ask questions or make comments via the Internet.
“There's a virtual community out there and we're going to tap into how that might work for the church,” said Rev. Darrel Proffitt, the church's lead pastor. “It's more than just a virtual interactive service where you can ask questions through Twitter and Facebook, but will encourage people to develop a community throughout the week.”
Social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have allowed people to stay in touch with friends and family, even celebrities and political officials, while keeping up with what they're doing at the moment. By posting frequent updates to their sites, people stay connected and informed instantaneously.
“I think people have tapped into the benefit of Twitter and other sites, and I think it's a desire for community, a desire to connect with people,” said Proffitt, who said he follows a number of people on Twitter. “The last place many people look for community is in the church so we're really trying to reach out to a part of the population that might not consider going to church.”
During The Gathering Place service, people can use their cell phones, laptops or other wireless devices to connect to the service's Facebook page, The Gathering Place, or Twitter site, Gathering_Place, through the free WiFi available in the worship area.
Proffitt said questions and comments through Facebook and Twitter will be sent directly to his laptop, and he will take time to respond to those requests during his teaching. If a question can't be answered during the service, Proffitt said he plans to follow up during the week to maintain connections with people.
“This is more than having people come to church,” Proffitt said. “We want to tell people we have a different way to love and live, and we have community where God is present.”
While the service is interactive, members and guests don't have to use Facebook or Twitter to attend or participate. Other opportunities for questions will be available, and the message will be the same that is preached Sunday but in a relaxed atmosphere.
Craig Vickerman, the church's pastor of youth discipleship, said he's excited about the new service and the service opportunities it will bring for people who are new or faithful members, including students in the youth group.
“A lot of our students are already involved on Sunday mornings — we have completely student-run youth services where students run the sound board, lead the music, do everything,” Vickerman said. “We still want people to come to church as a family and grow together as a family so some of the kids will probably serve at the Saturday night service and still come back to church on Sunday with their family.”
Vickerman, who served on the development committee that planned the new Saturday service, said he expects that The Gathering Place to attract people in their 20s and 30s since the interactive aspect appeals to the younger generation. However, he said the service is for anyone interested in growing in their faith and serving the church.
“As a church, we're trying to be relevant to people in our community and attract people who have never been to teach or who haven't been in a while,” he said. “It's for anybody interested in doing church in a new way and who are interested in serving and being active, not being pew warmers.”
Since 1994, Church of the Holy Apostles has been serving the Katy area. The church began as a mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas with 12 people meeting at a member's home.
Services were held at various Katy schools from 1995-2000 until the congregation moved into its new location in 2000 on the Grand Parkway. Membership has been consistently growing with an average Sunday attendance of about 500, said Donna Matthews, the church's pastoral assistant. Church leaders expect attendance to grow with the start of The Gathering Place service, Matthews said.
The new service will start at 6 p.m. Saturday but the church will open at 5 p.m. to serve coffee and a light dinner. Families with children are welcome and the dress is casual.
Church of the Holy Apostles also has two Sunday services at 8 and 10:30 a.m. as well as a healing service on Thursday at 12:05 p.m. and a contemplative service the first Wednesday of the month. Programs at the church include a youth group, adult small groups, Bible studies and mission trips to Galveston, Mexico and Uganda.
For more information about the church, call 713-502-6518 or visit holyapostles.cc.