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DVDs an extension of Mount Hope churchcomment (0)

June 8, 2006

By Jeremy Dale Henderson

The homebound seniors of Mount Hope Baptist Church, Mount Hope, in Muscle Shoals Baptist Association are a savvy bunch — savvier than television, savvier than radio. 
They’ve gone digital. 
Each week, DVD recordings of Mount Hope Baptist’s Sunday services are hand delivered to the homes of more than 10 frail, but faithful, members of the congregation whose age or ailments keep them from the pews.
Still, Pastor Ricky Watt said the DVD ministry the church began when it moved to its new sanctuary in August 2005 isn’t just for its seniors. “It’s not just something for homebound members but anybody who might be incapacitated for health reasons or whatever — they can get the benefits of it. Just recently, we had one of our middle-aged ladies who is a teacher fall, and she was laid up for about six weeks. We were able to give her the DVDs.”
In fact, when Judy Kerr, who grew up attending Mount Hope Baptist, fell that day at school, the last thing on her mind was the thought of missing church. And it wasn’t because of the pain. She knew she would see the service on DVD.
“It’s a lot like being in church because the cameras are from different angles,” she said. “You get a good view of the person that’s speaking and the choir and everything, but they can also pan out into the audience when people are shaking hands and greeting each other and you can see who all’s there.”
The tapes produced by the solitary camcorder that once presided over worship services from the back of the old sanctuary lacked mightily in audio and visual quality. 
“The quality was a big issue,” Watt said. “It was getting to a point where we had more and more folks having problems being able to hear what was being said. So what we have now is three cameras mounted in the sanctuary that are operated by joystick in the sound room.” His sermons are now digitally transferred to disk directly through the church’s new sound system. “It’s just a great quality thing.”
Gerald Hester, 69, agrees — so much so he watches each recording at least twice a week.
“Yes sir, they’re good,” he said. “In fact, sometimes we even watch it more than that.”
Hester has been a Mount Hope Baptist member for “a long time” — at least 25 or 30 years — and has been receiving the DVDs for the five months he’s been confined to his house. “It’s great for shut-ins and everything. I enjoy it. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you were sitting right there in the services,” he said. 
Watt said it’s been an incredible ministry for his small church.
“It’s been really neat for us. We are a smaller church — we run around 150 on Sunday morning — and there’s a lot of folks that wouldn’t expect a church our size to actually have DVDs and things of that nature. It’s just turned out real well,” he said. 
And Kerr — though she’s finally returning to her normal Sunday routine — couldn’t agree more.
“I’m back in church now and only got it (the DVD) a few times, but it was really good for me to be able to stay connected,” she said. “It really does make a difference.”

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