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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Hope in the midst of a crisis

A Sunday at La Iglesia En El Camino on the corner of Sherman Way and Kester is typically overflowing with eager churchgoers ready to listen to the sermons of Senior Pastor Frank Nuño.

But on April 12, the pews were empty due to the closure of public masses to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Instead, about 3,800 churchgoers celebrated Easter on YouTube through a prerecorded video that features Frank Nuño preaching at La Iglesia En El Camino in the city of Van Nuys.

“The crisis of this pandemic is overshadowing our Easter,” said Frank Nuño during his sermon. “This Easter is the weirdest one that I have ever celebrated in a long time.”

Frank Nuño said that the resurrection of Jesus Christ resonates now because of its message of hope.

“Nobody can live without hope,” Frank Nuño said. “When you lose hope, you can only look at the circumstances around you. You lose your sight toward the future.”

Pastor Ann Nuño, the wife of Frank Nuño, said through an interview on Zoom that La Iglesia En El Camino’s transition to an online platform has not been difficult.

“We are aware of the seriousness of the situation,” Ann Nuño said. “That is why we still want God’s word to reach our congregation because a church is not a building. It’s a community.”

Before quarantine was enforced, the church already taped their services and published them on YouTube, so that the people not in attendance could still watch the Sunday sermon.

Ann Nuño said that because they already had the filming equipment, it was a comfortable transition compared to other churches that didn’t have this practice already in place.

When the church was open to the public, La Iglesia En El Camino had four different services that churchgoers could choose to attend. Now, they record services without an audience and upload videos onto their YouTube channel on Thursdays and Sundays at 8 a.m.

“We’re very conscious of the fact that we also have to abide by all of the rules and regulations of the government, and we want to care for our people,” Ann Nuño said. “We are enacting very strict social distancing when we’re doing the taping.”

She added that it has been challenging because they’re accustomed to a full team of people that help with camerawork. In order to keep in line with social distancing guidelines, they had to reduce their team.

“It’s very different for both worship and the person that’s preaching to do so to an empty building, because there’s no feedback,” Ann Nuño said. “You’re not leading anyone, so to speak, you’re virtually leading.”

She said her husband mentions that his sermons and those of other pastors have become shorter because there is no longer a need to pause for people to react with laughter, applause or the occasional “amen.”

Ann Nuño said that even though it was a smooth transition for those who lead service, for others in different departments, it hasn’t been easy.

Associate Pastor Jennifer Palacios is in charge of both children’s services and the young adult’s services. She said in an interview on Zoom that the transition of Sunday school to a virtual platform has been challenging.

“When you don’t have the kids in front of you, it’s really hard to keep their attention,” Palacios said. “After a few trials and errors, I think we finally got it.”

Palacios said that they had to remove a few YouTube videos and then reupload them when they first started. However, the feedback from the children’s parents has motivated Palacios and her team to move on forward.

“I think because we’re all home, all these things are really welcoming to the parents that we at least continue to do something in the routine of a Sunday,” Palacios said.

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