The big picture of worship in the craziness of a pandemic
For worship leader Suzanne Hanna, lockdown has been a time of resourcing churches, events and individuals to worship God
Suzanne Hanna was keen to help people share the amazing message of hope over Christmas.
She had adapted to a world where socially distanced recording studios, faulty Zoom connections, and filming worship which had been infiltrated by family pets; but she kept her sights set on one thing.
"In the craziness of the pandemic, the big picture was still to give the church an opportunity to worship," she says.
As worship leader at Coastlands Elim Church and Irish co-ordinator for Elim Sound, Suzanne spent the year recording songs for local and national events, albums and Christmas.
"The chaos of the early days of lockdown worship taught me to approach this with humour and authenticity," she says.
"At first, I was recording on my iPad at home with my husband, while the guys on our church’s worship team were scrambling to buy mics. I don’t know anybody involved in homemade worship who doesn’t have hilarious stories of having to banish their cat from the room and so on, but being authentic was always important, because people need to connect with you, your church, and with Jesus."
The worship team at Coastlands recorded songs remotely for online Sunday services and daily devotions, and a fellow church member with a recording studio, edited them together.
Suzanne was thrilled when the team was finally able to meet at the socially distanced studio to record their sets in person.
"We were in our pods waving to each other as we recorded. It was such a joy to actually see people. There was that sense of appreciating each other more, with the beauty of connection and relationship."
With Elim Sound, Suzanne has worked to facilitate worship at a national level, recording 'Songs From Home'.
"We wanted to resource churches who couldn’t get together to worship. We took turns to provide worship from our living rooms for them to use in their services, or for people to use at home."
The team also collated worship for national events such as Elim’s Leadership Summit. And the relationships built during this time have been hugely rewarding.
"It's funny because we live all over the UK, yet we’ve probably been more collaborative while we’ve been working remotely because we’ve needed to pull together.
"It’s been wonderful that we’ve been able to connect with people from the Elim global family too. Friends in India and the Philippines have been able to access what we’ve been doing."
Suzanne has also been moved by the way churches – in Elim and beyond – have united to share ideas, support each other, and work on worship projects. The Elim Sound team helped support Elim churches over the summer, recording worship for pre-recorded services which pastors could choose to show on Sundays in order to take a break in August.
The team also took part in the UK Blessing video, and are currently working on a new album which is set for release in 2021.
And as churches were preparing for Christmas, Elim Sound were recording worship resources for use in festive services.
At a local level, Suzanne planned Christmas worship for Coastlands Elim, with accessible, bite-sized content such as carols and prayers.
She was passionate that churches of all sizes should seize the opportunity to share a much-needed message of hope over Christmas.
"We’ve never needed the Christmas story more than we needed it last month. The carol O Holy Night has a line, ‘a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices’. We needed to give a very weary world something to rejoice about – the powerful message of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.
"However big or small your church, you can use creative ideas to retell the greatest story ever told. We always have a beautiful opportunity to share good news, hope and life."