Murray First United Methodist Church implements creative ways to keep worship leaders and congregation connected during COVID-19 crisis


The sanctuary at Murray First United Methodist Church is filled with balloon faces and member pictures (including celebrity lookalikes) to help worship leaders feel connected to the congregation during virtual worship. (Submitted photos)

Murray First United Methodist Church in Murray, KY, has found some novel ways to help worship leaders stay connected to the congregation during the coronavirus crisis.

The worship team was discussing how “extra draining” it is to conduct worship without a congregation with which to interact, explained Carrie Rudy, a member of the church and wife of Rev. Jeff Rudy, senior pastor.
After several weeks into exclusive virtual worship, Carrie said she could tell the church's worship leaders were “missing the congregation and needed a pick-me-up.”
Carrie and the church staff came up with ways to help worship leaders “see” the congregation: 

  • Church members were asked to submit (via email) pictures of themselves or their families. The pictures were printed and placed as close as possible to spots in pews where they usually sit. For what Carrie termed an “added bit of fun,” members had the option to submit pictures of their celebrity lookalikes. Church member names were written on the backs of the celebrity photos, allowing worship leaders to guess who they represented. Celebrities in attendance have included Prince Harry, Tiffani-Amber Theissen, Zooey Deschanel, Kathy Bates, Kristin Chenoweth, Luis Guzman, Dom DeLuise, Julie Walters and Joel Olsteen. 
  • For Mother’s Day, yellow emoji balloons were anchored to the pews to help fill the sanctuary with expressive faces. These included smiling faces, laughing faces and sleeping faces. “Jeff particularly enjoyed seeing faces laughing at his jokes and was humbled by the sleeping faces,” reported Carrie.
Another coronavirus activity outside of worship to help keep the church body connected was a congregation parade of 70 vehicles on May 3. “No one got out of their cars; we just loved seeing each other’s faces from a distance,” said Carrie. Watch video of parade on church's Facebook page.
~Compiled by Lane Gardner Camp, Director of Communications

How is your Memphis Conference church/congregation adjusting & adapting to social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic? What new ways have you found to worship, share devotions & hold Bible study? How are you continuing to serve & reach out to your community? What new technologies are you learning & embracing to communicate & maintain your connection? Share your stories & pictures! Any word count is acceptable, but 100 to 200 words is ideal. Please include who, what, when, where, why & how. Email

Memphis Conference COVID-19 Resource Page: CLICK HERE