When Indiana’s Enten Eller, director of electronic communication at Bethany Theological Seminary, was asked to facilitate the technology that would join three Kansas ministers-in-training with four others in Florida, he didn’t expect that it would lead to one of the most moving experiences he’s had in bringing people and technology together.
The students needed to complete several activities as part of the work required for their ordination certificate. So, with Enten’s help, they utilized a combination of Adobe Connect video software for meetings and Skype for audio to get it done. They sang hymns together, often started by one of the students in Florida with the rest joining in with harmony.
The high point, however, says Enten, was an “anointing service,” which, in the Church of the Brethren denomination to which they belong, is a ceremony of healing and renewal. A minister applies oil to the forehead of someone who is hurting three times to represent the forgiveness of sins, presence of God, and healing of mind, body and spirit. The minister then lays his or her hands on the person and prays for the individual’s healing.
The students gathered in a circle at each of their locations and conducted the ritual with one another. “While the oil could not pass over the distance,” says Enten, “the prayers and support most certainly did, and we were all a bit astounded at how the distance seemed to vanish between us. We felt the Presence and close to each other—with a feeling of the Spirit uniting us, unbounded by space or time.”