Keep Watch — Live on Facebook

St. Bartholomew’s, Nashville

By Kirk Petersen

For the third straight Advent at a Nashville church, a nighttime liturgy dating to the sixth century will connect with a technology platform dating to 2004.

At 9 p.m., six times weekly, staff members at St. Bartholomew’s will take turns reading Compline from the Book of Common Prayer on Facebook Live, providing a few minutes of tranquility during what can be a hectic season.

Sally Chambers, director of communications at St. Bartholomew’s, said the practice arose from a brainstorming session among members of the clergy and staff, who asked, How do we get people to open up the prayer book and engage with it?

The services last about ten minutes and can be watched live or after the fact. Chambers estimates the service averages 25 daily viewings.

“Our community is so geographically dispersed, and with the way Nashville is growing now, it’s getting more and more difficult to bring people to our church building,” said the Rev. Travis Hines, associate rector.

“Sally, who’s our communications director, but really functions also as a pastor for our community, came up with the idea: What if we were to do Compline … every night here at the church, but then broadcast it via Facebook Live?” he said.

Through more discussion, the team realized it was not necessary to make someone come to the church every night, that staff members could take turns broadcasting Compline from their homes.

Hines said he normally does not like social media, believing that it helps reinforce a “malformed liturgy” of the contemporary secular world. But “any opportunity we have to redeem it in some way, and to make use of it to reform our people in the image of Christ, I’m excited about that,” he said.

During Advent, the beginning of the church year, St. Bartholomew’s has found “there’s a willingness in people to reorient … toward spiritual disciplines, that they can engage more in the rhythms of the liturgical life of the church,” Hines said. “Compline is a simple service, it’s an easy entry in,” and it comes at the end of the day, when families typically are gathered together at home.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.


Online Archives