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Lockdown in El Puerto de Santa Maria: José María Almarza Cano and Carlota Verdura

Lockdown in El Puerto de Santa Maria: José María Almarza Cano and Carlota Verdura

How much of the year did you and your church/city spend in lockdown vs. free to have church?
Lockdown: mid-March to end of May. Free to meet between 30-50% depending on restrictions: July to present.

Give me a brief description of your 2020 highs and lows. What went really well and what were some of the challenges you faced?
Challenges: Having to go online on a Saturday with no previous notice. Having to record with limited resources and knowledge. Recording the worship and sermons every week for 3 months without being able to leave our home. We have had to start 2 services.
Good: we are now on social media, we’ve stepped-up to media tech of the 21st century, we were able to have some guests speakers (via Zoom) during lockdown that we couldn’t have normally. We were able to open the church in July and our attendance hasn’t diminished. We were granted permission to meet outside, in front of our church. That gives us visibility to the community and more space.

What are some of the good things you witnessed over this past year?
People hungry for more of God, getting their lives sorted, teens seeking for more of God, unchurched people more open to talk about God. Family members from people in our congregation coming to Christ or being open to Him.

We’ve been able to meet outside in summer and that gave us visibility in the community.

What are some of the difficult things you and your church experienced?
* Although financially we have some savings we have had less income and our expenses haven’t changed much.
* Not being able to have Sunday school on a regular basis, although when we are allowed 50% we do have S.S. for primary students.
* People who haven’t been able to be at church because of vulnerable family members, fear, or health issues.

How do you think this year has affected your church?
It has brought us more together as we have all suffered the same thing….and the cultural differences seem to have lessened…but we do miss the fellowship, the meals, the hugs, the closeness

Almost one year on, what has God taught you through this unprecedented experience?
* That He is in control no matter what…
* The importance of grieving loss and talking about it.
* How frail we are. How strong God is.
* That although we are a small church it has been a blessing for this time as we have been able to be connected with everyone and also by just having 2 services we have been able to keep our attendance.

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