Unprecedented virtual love feast events get large audience

Two virtual love feasts offered during Holy Week gained a large online audience. The two were unprecedented, church-wide events, held in addition to the virtual love feasts offered by individual congregations in the Church of the Brethren.

As of April 15, a week after the live-streamed event, the love feast coordinated by the Office of Ministry and the recording of the event had received 10,323 “page views.” View the recording at www.brethren.org/lovefeast2020 .

The Dunker Punks virtual love feast podcast has had more than 4,500 engagements as of this week. Organizers noted it took a month of planning and included more than 20 Church of the Brethren voices as well as several people working behind the scenes. Listen at  www.virtuallovefeast.com .

‘The service likely touched 10,000 people’

As reported by Enten Eller, who provided technical support for the live-streamed event coordinated by the Office of Ministry, “from this data, we can tell that the service was viewed (sessions) over 10,000 times.” He qualified the data with the comment that “while some of those viewings would have been repeats and refreshes, given that there were nearly 4,000 unique devices used, we can say with a high degree of confidence that the service likely touched over 10,000 people live or within the 24 hours following the service.”

He offered some further analysis of the geographic reach of the online event. “We can also tell that viewers connected from most all parts of the denomination across the United States, plus at least a dozen more countries.”

‘Innovative and adaptive mustard seeds’

Matt Rittle, one of the pastors involved in the Dunker Punks virtual love feast podcast, has reported to Newsline about the success of the event:

“The Dunker Punk movement has been calling and gathering people to live out Brethren values in ‘innovative, adaptable, and fearless’ ways since its inception at the 2014 National Youth Conference, striving to ‘drop mustard seeds along new paths of connection and expression.’ We are honored, then, to have dropped our innovative and adaptive mustard seeds along the well-worn path of the Brethren love feast experience and are so thankful to everyone who collaborated to make it a success.

“Spanning over a month of planning, 20 voices were heard on the special episode and several more worked less visibly behind the scenes. The Virtual Love Feast represents over 200 cumulative volunteer hours from people collaborating together to make this special love feast experience possible, which, as Emmett Witkovsky-Eldred said, ‘Wasn’t a replacement, but a reminder of what love feast is and why it matters.’

“We are as in awe of this massive effort as we are with the impressive response. Between the Virtual Love Feast itself and the separate video of the postlude, an eight-part Dunker Punk rendition of ‘Move in our Midst’ by Jacob Crouse, over 4,500 people engaged with us in our journey. We cannot say this loudly or clearly enough: thank you to everyone who engaged and listened! Seriously, thank you!

“If you enjoyed the Virtual Love Feast episode, consider checking out other episodes too. Two timely episodes recently released include Episode #96 led by Dana Cassell encouraging people to turn to God through prayer and meditation, and an Earth Day Episode #97 focusing on how this pandemic might move us to further examine our caregiving for the Earth by way of a dialogue between Emmett and Mandy North. Stay tuned to each episode offered by Brethren young adults as we move quickly toward our landmark 100th episode!”