Web Technology Connects Missionaries, Congregation

TOKYO, JAPAN (October 26, 2010) – Even though it meant Evangelical Covenant Church missionary Gary Carlson had to stay up past 1 a.m., he was thrilled to be able to communicate through Skype with one of his supporting churches in the United States during two recent worship services.

“It was a great, fun experience,” says Carlson, who along with his wife, Pauline, serve as country coordinators for Japan with the Department of World Mission. “It was wonderful to speak so directly with the congregation.”

Carlson dialogued with Steve Larson, pastor of Redeemer Covenant Church in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, during their 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship services on October 17. That meant 11 p.m. Sunday and 1 a.m. Monday for Carlson.

Skype is a software application that enables people to make free online video calls and see other users while speaking.  Carlson had Skype open on his computer, and the church opened the connection part way through each service.

“I was able to see Steve and most of the folks in the sanctuary, and they had a view of me on their worship screens,” Carlson says.

Larson interviewed Carlson about the couple’s connection with Redeemer, discussed the upcoming move of Carlson’s church – Shonan Community Church – to a new building. During the interview, the church used the large screens in the sanctuary to display photos of the new building that Carlson had previously emailed. The Japanese congregation will hold their first service in the new building on Sunday.

Larson also asked questions submitted by his confirmation class and prayed for the work in Japan before ending the conversations.

The interview led to an unforeseen benefit. Larson says a woman who was visiting the church for the first time told him afterwards that she had been praying God would lead her to a church with a vision for the world. She says she found it.

Larson had proposed the idea about a month before, and the pair did a test run on Thursday prior to the service. This was the first time that Carlson has been interviewed via Skype, and says he would like to do it again. It may mean changing his sleep schedule, however.

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