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APC/FPC Haguenau Cluster Meeting: Challenge met!

The worship service was broadcast live on YouTube. About thirty people joined forces for the success of this event. An opportunity to experience the faithfulness of God and to strengthen the fellowship within the union!

Michel, Anne-Sophie, Alain and Anthony, took part in the organization, the preaching, the praise or the leading… we are giving the account of their experience and how this team project challenged and encouraged them.

Michel, you are the president of the APC Union and the pilot of the Haguenau cluster. What  arrangements did you make to realize this meeting ?

The annual APC/FPC Haguenau cluster meeting was canceled in 2020 due to the health crisis. Then the one planned for 2021, Sunday April 11 in Drulingen fell right in the middle of the third lockdown.  What to do? On the advice of the musicians and technicians of the LPC (Praise for Christ) Team, Daniel Kessely, director of FPC, Joseph Hubert, coordinator of APC and myself, we opted for a video broadcast rather than a “Zoom” worship.  Good advice!

Of course, nothing can replace meeting in person in Drulingen or elsewhere. The special meeting for the youth planned for Saturday evening, could not take place either, but it is only postponed until next year.

What were your principal challenges ?

The four hours usually taken for the meeting had to be squeezed into a little more than two hours. What a challenge! We are grateful for all that could be communicated in this dynamic and varied way.

The rehearsals of the LPC Team, the recording and the live upload on YouTube took place in the meeting room of the Evangelical Church of Bitche. The technical installation was impressive: 4 cameras, a control room, computer screens  galore, cables… to say nothing of the handling of all these tools by so many dedicated and competent people! Following hours of rehearsal for the musicians and singers, and a complete dry run on Saturday, the service went live Sunday morning under the best conditions. Our common goal was not just that all go well, but that our praise rise to our God and that the seven churches of the Haguenau Cluster, other participating churches and all the participants be edified, strengthened and encouraged to “enlarge our hearts”, the theme of our meeting.

All this was possible, thanks to technical and human resources implemented. The end result – both in terms of sound quality, light, picture, and of course content – was very satisfying. It seems that the service was appreciated. We are counting on the Lord to help us “enlarge our hearts”.

Anne-Sophie, you are a member of the LPC team. How did you experience this first live worship?

You may have seen me singing or playing the guitar. I rejoice in the privilege of having been able to serve God directly. Those who know me know that I like everything that is true, authentic, lively and simple… You can imagine that I jumped for joy when I learned that some members of the APC Union of the Haguenau Cluster would meet in person for this online event.

April is the month of renewal: trees bud, nature is reborn, flowers bloom… For me, this service was comparable to a little dose of spring in my life. That Sunday, I felt revived fully praising God. So often I forget how privileged I am and how grace impacts my life. God knew I needed that booster shot. So true, so deep, the words of the songs renewed my love for my Savior, Jesus. The Holy Spirit was at work that day deep in my heart. This service is a huge subject of thankfulness for me.

What were the biggest challenges?

Buds don’t bloom without effort, and a service like this called for effort. My efforts were especially in the preparations for this day. Time is of the essence in our society and while many things are planned, things don’t always go as planned. To be perfectly honest, there were nights when the motivation was gone, the strength was gone. But God is never far away and once again through this challenge He revealed His glory.

Another challenge was the technical aspect. I love to praise God and spend significant times of praise through music. But we had to concentrate on many technical elements, or rather ignore many of them: the cameras, the movements of the technicians and participants present… Here again, God showed us that it was possible and good to ignore our brothers and sisters (in certain circumstances only!).

For my part, the buds have opened. I saw God at work every step of the way: from the formation of the bud to the beautiful green leaf fully unfurled. Regarding the preparation for the worship later, I did indeed have difficulty finding the strength to rehearse, especially the week before the service. I expected to be filmed on Sunday morning drained. My first words, when I woke up on Sunday morning, were: “But where am I going to find the strength to get up? “. God renewed it. He gave me everything I needed and more. Without His strength everything would have looked as though a kind of gel on the buds was preventing them from opening and developing. But I was able to pour out my heart in front of Him. God is near, full of love. He cares about His children. What a privilege to have seen Him at work once again!

Beyond that, the technicians that God placed around us were a real blessing. Even more than brotherly love, they offered us their gentleness and discretion. They did their part with passion for the kingdom of God and it was demonstrated in their attitude towards us.

Many reasons for joy flow from this experience: a strengthened brotherly love, the presence of a living God, near and full of love for His children, then learning to let go, to put everything into the hands of God. And finally, I was touched by the invitation to “enlarge my heart”.

This service reminded me of the grace and work of Jesus on the cross. This verse has been with me lately: “But this is how God shows his love for us: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we are now considered righteous because of his blood, much more will we be saved by him from the wrath of God” [1]. God bless you richly!

Alain, you were part of the technical team. What were your fears and your joys?

It is the first time that so many technical means were implemented. This required a lot of organization and coordination between the different teams: video capture, decoration, worship team, sound systems, speakers and participants … On D-Day, when almost all the participants were present in the room, we were able to take note of the number of people actively involved in this project: nearly thirty! Preparing for this day was therefore not easy. But it was so encouraging to see all these brothers and sisters taking their time so that this worship took place in the best circumstances and that it had the desired impact on the churches of the union!

Our great fear was to encounter a major technical incident, which might disrupt the live broadcast. But we were able to all pray together before the service began, and God responded favorably. We were also concerned that someone from the team might participate who was positive for the virus or had been in contact with someone positive. But once again, God kept us. What joy, what relief to know that our Lord is above everything, that nothing escapes Him and that everything is going according to His divine plan!

I was particularly encouraged by the beautiful fellowship experienced during this service. As I said, the team on site was quite large, and with the stress of a live broadcast, one would have expected some tension. There was none! We experienced together a beautiful worship in the presence of the Lord … with a few cameras in front of us. It was a change from the ordinary!

Anthony, you led this worship service. How did you experience this?

It was a real challenge, which I accepted despite my apprehensions. I take away a lot of positive things from this experience. First, I realized the rigorous organization involved in a video broadcast of the service. We do not necessarily think that preparing for worship requires a lot of communication, availability and work. I was also impressed when I saw the hardware setup which was accomplished like the pros! The technical provision was of high quality.

The LPC Team also made great efforts in assiduously repeating the songs of praise to glorify our God. They really delivered! The mobilization of resources in various areas within the APC Haguenau Cluster network was nice to see and set an example of service that fit well with the theme: “Let us expand our hearts”. We were able to encourage each other when there were things to correct and above all we were able to rely on God so that he gave everyone peace and joy in the heart despite the pressure felt when we found ourselves facing the cameras. I am glad that I was able to serve the Lord alongside my brothers and sisters in the Church Cluster. I also thank those who showed their gratitude to us after the service. What a joy to be able to unite together before God as one Church!

Sandrine Laporte

[1] Romans 5.8, 9.

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