Hillhead Baptist Church, Glasgow

Zoom services have enabled the building-less Hillhead Baptist Church to remain connected with their congregation of all ages.

In 2016, Hillhead packed up their equipment and 'temporarily' moved out of their building. Six years later, they have permanently 'left the building' and hold their services in a local hotel.
When the first Covid 19 Lockdown was announced in March 2020, Hillhead Baptist Church was determined that Sunday Worship at least would continue without a beat. But now the trouble was that the church had no history of online worship. In the following five days the minister and deacons met to plan a way forward.
They quickly rejected livestreaming as too passive a technology for their church, which is used for participative worship.
Instead, they settled on Zoom – a platform which most of them had never used before – and just six days after the Scottish government’s momentous announcement the church met in that way for the first time. 
We chose Zoom because it allowed us to connect in real time. What we didn’t anticipate was that it would make us an even more inclusive church.
Minister the Rev Catriona Gorton said, ‘We chose Zoom because it allowed us to connect in real-time. What we didn’t anticipate was that it would make us an even more inclusive church.’
Regional winner Scotland [image]‘Using Zoom allows live interaction: for example, the mum of a new-born can join Sunday worship, a frail elderly person can join our midweek Coffee Club, or a young Trustee working away from home can take part in a Deacon's meeting. It allowed family and friends who were locked down in other parts of the world to join us, and worshipping together sustained families through some of the darkest days of lockdown. It also saves all of us from venturing out on dark, winter nights for prayer meetings or planning meetings.’
Now, after two years of Zoom church, they are following God's call to become a hybrid community, with some folk onsite, in a hotel, and others online, via Zoom. 
Each week, they set up their kit in a borrowed room, joining others across the nation and around the world to worship God - then de-rig, pack, and take it away until next week!
‘The one downside of holding services in a hotel is that our bulky equipment has to be set up and taken down each week,’ said the Rev Gorton. ‘The prize money will go towards new, more portable kit. We have always valued the support of Baptist Insurance, but winning this regional prize will really help us move forward.’
As a church seeking to be accessible and inclusive to as many people as possible, we have valued the flexibility of Zoom that allows audio dial-in from a landline, auto-generated subtitles on screen, simple polls for voting and of course the all-important breakout rooms for post-service chat!
Feedback from life-long members and those who discovered us during lockdown has been hugely positive. Much about our future is unknown but it will certainly involve a hybrid presence, embracing technology, for ministry and mission’.