Jun 30, 2021 | By Heather Hahn and the Rev. Gustavo Vasquez | UM News

After the COVID-19 pandemic closed Forest Chapel United Methodist Church’s doors, the world found a new window on its ministry.

Through worship services and prayers posted on Facebook, people began visiting the Cincinnati church from multiple time zones away. In the past year, Forest Chapel has seen new members join from Bhutan, Nepal and Indonesia — all Asian countries with few Christians.

By far the biggest growth came on May 30 this year, when church leaders welcomed 750 new members — mainly worshippers in Ludhiana, India.

“Will you be loyal to The United Methodist Church and uphold it by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service and your witness?” the Rev. J. Kabamba Kiboko, the church’s lead pastor, asked the new church members by Zoom.

They each responded by saying: “I will.”

Forest Chapel United Methodist Church’s experience is more far-reaching than most but hardly unique. After scrambling to go virtual in the early days of the pandemic, many United Methodist churches now report drawing more attendance online than they typically do in person. Read More