Lent on Facebook

Lent on Facebook

by Jonathan Tindor

A church in a village
Some people give up Facebook for Lent. Sr. Becky Swanson, synodically authorized interim pastor at Halfway Creek Lutheran Church in Holmen, Wisconsin (La Crosse Area Synod), uses Facebook more.

Holmen is a village with less than 10,000 people near where Lake Onalaska borders Minnesota. Founded in 1862 as Frederickstown, Holmen officially changed its name when it incorporated as a village in 1946.

Sr. Becky, who was called to Halfway Creek in January 2018, pastors one of over 15 different churches in the area. All of which have different Lenten services and traditions.

Lent as a Deaconess
For her, Lent is a time that allows her to engage in different ways with those she ministers to.

“There are more adult formation teaching opportunities, more worship opportunities, more opportunity to partner with neighboring churches.” Sr. Becky wrote in an email.

“There is more openness on the part of the congregation to engage in spiritual practices such as contemplative prayer.”

For Sr. Becky, her ministry at Halfway Creek Lutheran and her work on Facebook is part of her call and training as a Deaconess.

“My formation as a deaconess has equipped me to teach and accompany people in their spiritual practices.”

Lent on Facebook
Sr. Becky is using Facebook for two of these practices.

“On Sunday afternoons I’m offering an introduction to contemplative prayer.” These teaching times are advertised on Facebook as one of the churches upcoming events and are facilitated through Facebook live.

“People are participating and reporting that they feel a deepening of their spiritual life.” Sr. Becky wrote.

Sr. Becky is also using Facebook live to offer weekly recaps of the Sunday morning service on Monday nights.

“On Monday evenings I’m hosting a FB Live “recap” of Sunday’s worship that includes prayer, scripture (some my own retelling, some reading), most of the sermon and prayers of the people including petitions submitted through Facebook chat.”

One post from Monday, March 11, 2019, on Halfway Creek Lutheran Church Facebook page shows not only the inventiveness of this idea but also the practicality.

“Did the combination of snow and “spring forward” conspire to keep you from worship yesterday? Join Sr. Becky Monday at 8:30pm for prayer, scripture, and a recap/discussion of the reflection.”

Sr. Becky writes that people who participate in these recaps, like those who attend in the contemplative prayer teachings, are finding the recaps an aid to their spiritual journeys. “They are also feeling a connection to each other through the technology tools.”