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Watertown First makes disciples through Facebook Live

Watertown First

Watertown First UMC. Photos courtesy of Watertown First's Facebook page and live feed.

“I decided to join the Methodist faith by becoming baptized. It's something I have thought about for some time and I couldn't be happier with my decision. It means a lot to me to make the move toward my future with First United Methodist Church in Watertown.”

These are the words of a man, Arthur, who physically came to worship at Watertown First UMC for a year sporadically. Sue Togel, who serves as the welcome and serving coordinator at Watertown First UMC shares, “During that time, I never knew his last name. He never filled out a connection card. He and his girlfriend generally gave pretty limited information. We didn’t see much of them for a while until this past summer when his girlfriend came to church and said they had moved to Huron. They were in town because he had National Guard training.”

Togel learned that the couple had been watching the worship services via the congregation's live feed from Facebook. Watertown First has been live streaming their worship service via Facebook live for about a year. All it takes is a computer, a camera fed to the computer, and a person to click “go live” and make camera adjustments during the service as needed. There are about 12-15 people that join the service each week online.

When the two appeared at church for worship, Togel greeted them with open arms. “Great to see you, come back again," Sue said.

The next month they came together. The third month they came together again and he said, “I want to join the church.” “Ok,” Sue Togel said. “I have a class starting let’s figure out how we can get you in it!”

He and his girlfriend joined the Following Jesus class via a form of Skype. Through this process, it was discovered that it had been a very long time since he had even been in a church and that he had never been baptized. 

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Members of Watertown First pray over and bless Arthur before he is deployed.

“In class, we talk about baptism,” said Togel. "They have the option to renew their baptism vows or get baptized. He got baptized, and his girlfriend had her baptism renewed!”

He will be deployed through the National Guard. They were in church on a recent Sunday and Pastor Sara Nelson, who serves Watertown First, did a special blessing over both of them where congregants came forward and laid hands on them during the blessing. Those in the pews did an “air-laying” where they raised their hands towards them during the blessing.

“The response was unbelievable,” Sue said. “There was a waiting line after church to try and speak with them. So many people reached out afterward with love and support.”

This story was shared as part of the Dakotas Conference Vital Signs dashboard. Each week congregations are asked to share stories of transformation and track the progress towards the goals you have set here.

Do you want to live stream your worship services? Here are some tips and resources:

13 tips for improving your Facebook Live broadcasts here

Use Facebook Live to stream your church events learn more

How to stream worship beyond the sanctuary details here


Dakotas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church 605.996.6552 1331 University Ave. Mitchell SD 57301-0460 US 43.69689310 -98.03291320 122 W. Franklin Avenue Ste 400 Minneapolis MN 55404 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 W University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000