“This year our travel plans were cancelled completely, so we are glad for a second-best alternative: following the meetings from home,” says Ingunn Sundmark Tombre, who lives in Nancy, France. Because of presentations submitted from around the world, this online conference has had a strong sense of community.
By Ulrikke Andresen – Photo by Anne-Sophie Tombre
BCC’s virtual summer event continues during the coming week. So far there have been three faith-strengthening meetings for adults, informational broadcasts, a children’s meeting and a youth meeting.
Blinking lights on the world map in the studio indicate where BCC’s app is in use. The lights flicker in just about every corner of the world. One of those following along from home is Ingunn Tombre, from Nancy in the eastern part of France.
She is Norwegian but has lived in France since she met her husband Harald while studying here. They have been married for almost 30 years now, and she feels almost French.
Nevertheless, one steady and important part of her life has been the summer conferences in Norway, which she has attended since a child. After she and her husband had their own children, they continued to make one of BCC’s two summer conferences a priority every year. However this year was different. The whole summer period will most likely be spent at home in France. Given the corona situation, it is difficult to gather locally and to travel.
“Some families get together for sure, but in very limited numbers. The situation right now makes us extremely thankful for the broadcasts from BCC which come straight into our living rooms. I sense the same message and blessing in the meetings, even through a screen,” Ingunn continues.
Employees and volunteers working together
When BCC had to cancel the Easter conference for some 11,000 registered attendees, its media division made a huge commitment to create an online alternative. Using interactive platforms, the conference could reach many thousand participants around the world in their homes.
“This is impressive, all the work that’s been done so that people around the world can partake of the gospel. Hats off to everyone who has worked tirelessly to innovate and improve an online experience,” says Ingunn.
“BCC’s conferences have meant so much for me and my family. Being physically present is of course the best, but this is clearly the next-best solution, when the situation is the way it is. The broadcasts are translated to French locally, but I prefer to listen in Norwegian. I think it is extra good to listen to the meetings in my mother tongue.”
During the event, a considerable number of volunteers contribute content, in addition to staff who work on different elements of the program. The broadcasts are translated to approximately 20 languages and are uniquely characterized by widespread participation and enthusiasm from around the world.
BKM Nancy is one of many churches which have contributed productions to the summer program, giving viewers a taste of their local church life.
Fellowship through the screen
“When one wishes to follow Jesus’ words, it’s good to have fellowship with other believers who live for the same thing. It is actually huge to sense that we have fellowship across borders and in spite of cultural differences,” says Ingunn.
Even though meeting online is different, she describes a new form of fellowship:
“I am very thankful for the opportunities made possible by technology. We are lucky to hear God’s word this way, in our very own homes. We feel that we are participating, and sense that the Spirit is present, despite many hundreds of kilometres between us. I also believe that everyone who has been at meetings and conferences senses the fellowship just as clearly through the screen, and this creates a longing to be together again.”