On Nov. 24, the innovative First Mobile Church celebrated its first full year of worship services held via conference call.
A development of the Rev. Charlie Gross, pastor of West Grove Presbyterian Church, the weekly worship services are perfect for shut-ins, travelers and anyone who has difficulty traveling to attend conventional church services. It is also perfect for winter weather, when conditions may make it dangerous to drive.
The church has drawn a dozen regular participants from the immediate area, including Chester, Lancaster and York counties in Pennsylvania, as well as from Florida. "For those (core) 12, it's a great tool. It's a great way to worship, and it's a great way to come together," Gross said. "You can be anywhere and come to church."
First Mobile Church meets for worship on Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. via a conference call. The congregation "gathers" by calling in and entering a passcode.
Those who dial in are connected with other callers and the group shares joys, concerns and tidbits about their week before the service begins. The 35-minute service, led by Gross, includes music, Scripture and a short sermon.
Some changes have come to the mobile worship services over the course of the first year, starting with the introduction of music. Gross was initially concerned over the legalities of playing music for the services, but after contacting the major distributing firms and researching the law he learned that he is permitted to play any music for worship in this venue. "That was one of the biggest breakthroughs," Gross said.
Gross has also added a newsletter, which is mailed periodically to the regular First Mobile Church attendees, that includes information that helps bring them together as a congregation. He has also found a way to provide Communion by mailing a prepackaged wafer and juice to be used during the service. Communion has been held quarterly this year, but in 2015, Gross plans to offer it on the first Sunday of each month.
Assisting Gross are Walter and Joe Snyder (technical panel operators), Melissa Ryan (prayer and greeter support), Lisa Murphy (prayer and greeter support) and Val Aubry (greeter and technical support). "These faithful servants of Jesus Christ help to make this creative worship service happen. I am deeply humbled by their faithfulness and commitment to sharing the Good News of Christ," Gross said.
The Mobile Church concept is one that is drawing interest. In September, visitors from two Virginia churches traveled to Chester County to watch Gross run the services and learn more about the process. "They thought that it was a great concept," Gross said.
To participate in First Mobile Church, interested individuals may call 530-881-1212 and then enter 345-710-914# or use the toll-free number 855-212-0212 and enter 345-710-914#. There is no need for Wi-Fi or an Internet connection. For more information, readers may visit http://www.mobilechurch.weebly.com. To contact Gross, individuals may email email@example.com or call West Grove Presbyterian Church at 610-869-9458.