Bethany Baptist Church, Calidicot

Utilising free and low-cost software and equipment, Bethany BC made a little go a long way and kept their schools programme running.

Prior to the pandemic, our technology use was minimal and we had to adapt to continue 'doing church' and community outreach. With a new wall-mounted camera we started using Zoom and created a YouTube channel to enable new and existing people to 'attend' church, live streaming and recording of all types of services including wedding and funeral services when numbers were limited. We began providing pre-recorded video assemblies and Bible Society 'Open the Book' lessons to the local primary and secondary schools, sharing the videos with eight schools altogether. 
We were totally inexperienced and had a limited budget but used various methods: recording video from a laptop or smart phone and using PowerPoint for illustrations, and a 'selfie' stick was handy to record a tour around 'Foodbank' for the Harvest assembly. Our best buy was a green screen so we could comply with social distancing by recording each person individually and then, using computer software, people were brought together on screen. We learned how to edit the videos and add copyright-free backgrounds, music and sound effects and then we shared the finished videos with the schools via YouTube. 
The teachers were grateful, as were the children (and we all became famous overnight!) It all helped to strengthen existing relationships in the community and build some new ones. We continue to use all this technology today and since we began to meet again in person our small music group has implemented 'Sing Worship' software to help us continue worshipping together.
We bought a green screen and lighting cheap on eBay and backgrounds and music which I sourced free from Pixabay and the YouTube audio library.
Bethany Baptist Church has a small congregation and limited funds – the way it has made creative use of free software and eBay bargains to get around those financial constraints is a real inspiration.
A selection of thumbnails from videos recorded by the church.
When the first lockdown struck, Bethany – like others – realised that online was the way forward, at least for the time being.
In particular, they were keen to maintain the progress they had made taking ‘Open the Book’ sessions into local schools.
‘We wondered if we could video the sessions and send those out instead,’ said Andrew Wallwin, who is treasurer and deacon at the church in Caldicot, near Newport, Wales. ‘We bought a green screen and lighting cheap on eBay. That allowed us to film our Open the Book sessions – hamming it up a little more than in person! – and add in backgrounds and music which I sourced free from Pixabay and the YouTube audio library.
‘We downloaded a free editing program called Shotcut to edit the films – there was a bit of a learning curve involved, but it’s manageable. Those Open the Book films went to half a dozen local schools via a link to our YouTube site.’
The church’s pastor also mastered a selfie stick to film a mini documentary about a local foodbank which was used in school assemblies, and once services were in-person again Andrew made use of a low-cost site called to download backing tracks for hymns to supplement the church’s small number of musicians.
‘There’s a lot out there that is free or very cheap,’ he said. ‘It’s still amazing to win – I didn’t think we would, so to be honest we haven’t yet made plans about how to use the prize. We might split it between a donation to The Bible Society and some new piece of tech!’