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Local church uses power of streaming to keep Sunday services going amid COVID-19

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Posted at 4:08 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 16:22:13-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — During difficult times, many people turn to religion. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, churches, just like everything else, have had to close.

“These are unprecedented times and for churches like ours these are uncharted territories,” said The Rev. Magrey deVega, Senior Pastor of Hyde Park United Methodist Church.

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He is used to looking out at hundreds of people each Sunday, but for the past two weeks it’s been nothing but empty seats.

He has received an increase in calls and emails from church members looking for answers.

“I’d liken it to a combination of Sept. 11, and the Great Recession, and Hurricane Irma all wrapped up together, that’s the level of anxiety and concern,” said DeVega.

In order to continue their weekly Sunday service, they have put a major effort into broadcasting DeVega from the altar live on their website.

“So that has really helped to create a sense of community for those who feel isolated and concerned,” said DeVega.

People aren’t just watching from home, they’re participating.

“We are having people shoot videos in our own home during parts of the service and we are able to incorporate that into the service through technology,” said Mat Hotho.

Hotho is in charge of editing it all together. He said it’s not only reaching their own church members, but people around the country.

He’s now in the process of helping smaller churches in our area set up their own live streaming,

“So for some churches that just looks like an iPhone, but an iPhone that is connected to a good wireless connection to a good Facebook account that is going to be able to get that out to their people,” said Hotho.

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