Christian Media: Where Truth Meets You

The Return to Worship Buildings

Do you remember life before the pandemic? Churches may have changed during the pandemic, but one thing that hasn't changed is the longing to return to in person services. Find out what some individuals missed most about worship buildings in the Church Of Christ.


[Show Opens] [On-Screen text graphics] Melissa Morales Atlanta Georgia Melissa Morales: The feeling of walking in those chapel doors, and peace that you get just worshiping God in the sanctuary, there’s no better feeling than that. So, that’s what I miss the most, and also just being greeted by your church family, getting a hug from a CWS (Children’s Worship Service) member. Nan Zapanta (host): What did you miss most during the pandemic? Was it seeing your friends at school, hanging out after work, maybe listening to music in a crowded cafe? For many, it was being in one place. [On-Screen text graphics] Ashley Espiritu Heathrow, England Ashley Espiritu: What I definitely missed the most was just that feeling of peace and clarity. [On-Screen text graphics] Raymond Frank Architect Raymond Frank: I mean there’s a feeling that you have when you’re in the main sanctuary, when you’re there to worship God. [On-Screen text graphics] Jennifer De Leon New Westminster, B.C., Canada Jennifer De Leon: Being in the choir loft, in my toga, in my uniform… [On-Screen text graphics] JR Dongalen Maple Ridge, B.C., Canada JR Dongalen: Singing hymns, just seeing the brethren in-person, you know, answering in unity during the prayers… [On-Screen text graphics] Kyla Mojica Heathrow, England Kyla Moncia: I really missed seeing the interior of the chapel. There are so many intricate details. Nan: While the pandemic changed so many things in our lives, see why the house of worship continues to be an important part of our lives. Melissa: That’s our go-to place to feel peace, to know that we can let it all out to God in the sanctuary. [Host Intro] I’m Nan Zapanta. As an industrial designer, I spent years admiring the great designs of products, vehicles, and architecture from all over the world. But I found architecture to be the most captivating. I love learning about each building and discovering the characteristics that make it unique and understanding the purpose behind its design. Most of all, I love hearing the stories behind each structure and seeing God’s plan and putting it all together. Join us as we discover the Blueprint of the buildings and structures inside the Iglesia Ni Cristo. [On-screen logo graphic] Blueprint [On-Screen text graphics] Nan Zapanta @nan_zap [Instagram logo] Nan: From this view, you can’t tell how much the world has changed in the past two years. [On-Screen video graphic] CLOSED We are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus COVID-19 virus Nan: March 2020 [Video source: NBC News] Lestor Holt (News anchor): Breaking news tonight, President Trump declaring the Coronavirus a national emergency. [On-Screen Text Graphic] Breaking News Coronavirus National Emergency Lester Holt: The number of cases in the U.S. rising over 2000. All schools closing in a growing number of states. Millions of students impacted. Houses of worship suspending services. Landmarks… [Video ends] Nan:  Restrictions from COVID-19 changed how we connected with each other. [On-Screen photo graphic] Maintain Social Distancing At least 6 ft Nan: Social distancing became part of our vocabulary. We attended graduations, weddings, and funerals online. And for those of us who longed to pray in worship buildings, virtual services took their place. [Video source: CBS Los Angeles] [On-Screen Text Graphic] Virtual Church Service News anchor: Tune in this way to join in on the mass. [Video ends] [On-Screen photo graphics] Source: DESERET.COM California Lifts COVID-19 Limits On Indoor Worship Services Source: CSEMAG.COM Preparing spaces for worship post COVID-19 outbreak Source: KPBS.ORG These churches are done with buildings. Here’s why Nan: However, with pandemic restrictions now relaxing and churches able to open their doors. Many are greeted with a new challenge. [Video source: 23 ABC News] [On-Screen Text Graphics] Religious Affiliation Declining News anchor: In more news,  churches, temples, and mosques are reopening their doors but not all members are coming back. Some prefer online streaming, others stopped attending services altogether. [Video ends] Nan: But for members of the Church Of Christ, like DJ Blanco in Southern California, the reopening of worship buildings couldn’t happen sooner. When you found out that worship services were going back to in-person, that you’re going to be able to be there in the choir loft, when you heard it, like, at that moment what was the feeling, kind of what was going through your mind? [On-Screen Text Graphics] DJ Blanco Choir Director – Orange County, CA DJ Blanco: You know, for me, I wanted to know, you know, “Okay, when’s the first worship service? I’ll be there.” And you know, that’s the same excitement that I felt with all of the choir members and all of the brethren actually. Nan: Right. Any memorable reaction that you got from any[one]? DJ: Being able to see the reaction of the choir leaders’ faces, through virtual means, it was, you know, screenshot worthy. Nan: As a choir director, DJ leads choir members in the Orange County region. Nan: I guess pre-pandemic, how much time were you spending at the house of worship? DJ: Trying to spend as much time as I could here on the chapel grounds or in any chapel for that fact. Always trying to perform wherever I could, attend meetings, just see all the brethren. So, I’m one of the choir directors in our district. Nan: What did that mean to you when the pandemic hit? You weren’t able to go to the houses of worship. DJ: Right. Nan: How did that change affect you? [On-Screen Text Graphics] DJ Blanco Corona, California DJ: Well, first of all, I’d like to mention that our faith did not change during the pandemic. Once the pandemic hit, you know, we were ready to answer the instructions of the Church Administration. Even though we were sad that we weren’t able to perform together, in person, at the chapel, we knew that we will be taken care of. We received instructions to hold the practices virtually, just like how we’re doing everything else within the Church during that time. We were able to adjust and, you know, do the best we could to continue on in our duties in any way possible. Nan: COVID restrictions limited or altogether banned singing in worship buildings, but that didn’t stop choir members from practicing their hymns from home and singing, although softly, from their seats. [On-Screen Text Graphics] Kiara Rabara Miami, Florida Kiara Rabara: One thing that I was looking forward to doing, once we returned to the place of worship, was being able to perform as a choir member to the fullest extent. [On-Screen text graphics] Jennifer De Leon New Westminster, B.C., Canada Jennifer: Being able to perform my duty in the choir loft, but most especially just with the brethren, like with the choir members beside me, it’s such a different feeling when we’re all together, singing together in the choir loft. [On-Screen text graphics] Melissa Morales Atlanta Georgia Melissa: Though it was a blessing to be able to worship still, through WebEx and in our households and still being connected with all the brethren, the feeling of going back after such a long time, going back to the chapel, was surreal. It was just, it was so good. It was so good to be able to sit in the sanctuary again. DJ: So, what I missed most was being able to sing together, being next to co-choir members, you know, closer than six feet and being able to hear each other, filling the house of worship with our voices. Nan: And while you can still see evidence of the pandemic during the worship services, the opportunity to be inside the sanctuary has brought back a familiar feeling many were missing. DJ: You know we feel that peace in the house of worship, and even though we’re still, you know distanced, we have some similarities now with our co-choir members, even all of our brethren, knowing that we all are going through the same pandemic. Nan: So, you know, prior to even the pandemic hitting, we were kind of already having virtual meetings, virtual gatherings, and whatnot, so do you think that kind of helped prepare us? DJ: Yes. You know, God’s plan is always in action, even though we don’t realize it. God already knew what was going to happen, so we were able to adjust quickly with the ongoing pandemic. [Video clip: Blueprint] [On-Screen Text Graphics] Stream episodes of Blueprint on the INC Media App Nan: You know what I’ve missed during the pandemic, visiting congregations around the world and hearing the stories about the house of worship, stories like Dino from Henderson, Nevada. [On-Screen Text Graphic] Stream the story behind the Henderson house of worship on the INC Media app Dino: And we’ve been praying for a bigger house of worship for a long time, many years. And then, now that we have it, it’s such a great blessing. And every time, you know, we need to come to the chapel and pray, you know, it gives us the strength that we need. Sometimes after work, it’s like, “Drop me off at the chapel.” Nan: Best place to be. Dino: It is. It is. [Video clip ends] [On-Screen Text Graphics] Stream the story behind the Fresno house of worship on the INC Media app. Nan: And in a while each story is different, there’s always this common thread of home and refuge and each of them. [Video clip: Blueprint] [On-Screen Text Graphics] Justin Davis Baptized in the Church Of Christ in 2015 Justin Davis: For me it’s always been like a safe haven no matter what. [On-Screen Text Graphics] Jomar Davis Joined the Church Of Christ in 2015 Jomar Davis: There’s a lot of things that go [on] around here, but when I’m in the chapel, I don’t feel like I’m in any danger. As soon as I hit that parking lot, I’m here serving our Almighty God and it’s always been a place that feels like my home. So, that’s why we try so hard to share it so that people can learn and then they can come in too, they get the same opportunity we got, the same chance to be saved. [On-Screen Text Graphics] Stream the story behind the Fresno house of worship on the INC Media app Nan: You guys couldn’t have put it better. That’s awesome, both of you. [Video clip ends] Nan: And it’s a feeling that’s true, even when you move to the other side of the world. Ann Jeline Manabat: Coming out here by myself with no family, whatsoever, in the States, it’s been really hard. Nan: When I first met Ann, she had just moved to Portland, Oregon for school, all the way from Saipan. [On-Screen Text Graphics] Ann Jeline Manabat Portland, Oregon Ann: Especially, like, going to school here, so many different people. I don’t know a lot of people, I don’t have, like, have much family around, and so the only place that I can gain strength from is from the Church. And coming out here, there’s been like a big typhoon back at home. [Video source: YouTube – Disasternews] Nan: In 2018, typhoon Yutu hit the island of Saipan. It was the strongest typhoon to ever hit the Mariana Islands. [Video clip ends] Ann: It was really hard to focus at school, and I didn’t know where to turn to at that point. And praying to God, that’s where I set all my worries, that’s where I said all of my cares, and by the next day I was better. [Video Clip: Blueprint] On-Screen Text Graphics Portland, Oregon Nan: So we’re here in the Portland house of worship. You know, earlier we were talking and you mentioned the importance of the house of worship. Now sitting here, can you kind of share or elaborate on that?  Why is the house of worship so important to you? Ann: The house of worship is kind of like my home away from home, and being out here I feel that I could tell all of my feelings, and every time I just sit down and, you know, perform my duties, that’s where I feel that God’s Holy Spirit is really, really with me. [On-Screen Text Graphics] Ann Jeline Manabat Portland, Oregon Ann: And this house of worship, it really symbolizes peace for me. This is where I could, you know, just say all of my worries, say all of my cares during prayer, and then this house of worship is just important to me. [Video clip ends] Nan: It’s definitely a feeling we could relate to after the past two years. The pandemic forced many of us to worship from home, but that didn’t stop the Church Of Christ houses of worship from being a symbol of hope and strength for the entire community. Lisa Le: I’ve been attending events here at INC since I was in middle school. The community knows that there is a place, a safe place, for the community to go to. Regardless, whether it be flu vaccinations, food drives or events that really bring the community together. Nan Zapanta: ​​Worship buildings, like the ones in Sacramento and Los Angeles, open their parking lots to give their neighbors a more convenient place to get tested and even receive their vaccines. Christopher Esquivel: It’s very good for the community. Yeah, we all need it. Sometimes we don’t have money to pay, so it’s nice to have a place (where) they can do it free. Kyle Carson: When Church Of Christ opened the doors for the community, it really helps us to get more vaccinations done and allows us to reach herd immunity faster. Francisco Munoz: This is a good thing what they’re doing here, you know? And everyone’s nice, everyone’s helping. Everybody’s been– everybody’s being a service here right now to God. Nan Zapanta: There’s no replacement for walking into the sanctuary. I know, for me, it’s like I’m hit with an overwhelming peace each time. Nan Zapanta: This is beautiful. Nan Zapanta: But like many of you, at the height of the pandemic, it was rare for me to be inside the house of worship. So any opportunity, I had to walk into the house of worship, I took it. And I wasn’t the only one. Ashley Espiritu: As soon as we got the news that we could go back to the chapel, the  first thing I thought was, I finally get to wear my toga. And I finally get to sit on the choir loft and hold my hymnal and just sing my heart out. JR Dongalen: It meant a lot to me. Because, I mean, it’s been two years, right? I was happy and I felt– it felt fresh, fresh and new for me. And it felt like a new beginning in some ways. Jennifer De Leon: I feel like we have more of an appreciation now. Like every time we perform, we know like we don’t know if that that’ll be the last one. Like if more restrictions will come. Like we’re really, we’re really cherishing every time we get inside that house of worship. Ashley Espiritu: But yeah, definitely the first– the one thing that I was looking forward to was definitely being able to wear my toga again and singing on the podium with my fellow brothers and sisters. Nan Zapanta: Hi, Brother Raymond, how are you? Raymond Frank: Good, Brother Nan. How are you? Nan Zapanta: It’s really good to finally see you again. It’s been a while. Albeit, I know it’s virtually, right? But it’s still, nonetheless, great to see you again. But since the pandemic hit, can you describe how have things changed? I guess from the renovation and construction aspect, if there were any changes at all, or… Raymond Frank: We’ve had to, I guess, during the pandemic, we had to slow down a lot in some of the projects because of the restrictions by the cities, by the government. But we were able to continue on, nevertheless. But we still kept the same requirements for what we needed for our houses of worship. And, you know, we still have them successfully completed so that we can be able to use it to worship God. Nan Zapanta: Can you share maybe some unique details or even just instances that you’ve experienced in working on those projects that were very memorable? Raymond Frank: Each one had a different story, of course. Interesting to see the progress in Anchorage. It’s such a large chapel and from where they began to how it came out. I think it was a great project to see the, I guess, the change and the appearance of it. And it turned out great. It’s a beautiful chapel. We did a lot with the exterior lighting so that it makes a great impression in the area, especially in the evening. The main sanctuary is beautiful. And so I think it’s one of the projects that really stand out. Also, in Jacksonville, in regards to another project that was– just took a little bit of time to complete. But also I think we had a great result and we had to overcome whatever challenges that we came to, and we still would be able to have a chapel that was beautiful to offer to God. Nan Zapanta: For Jacksonville, that house of worship was the first ground-up built outside of the Philippines, if I recall correctly, right? Raymond Frank: I believe that is the first ground-up chapel. So it was great to see that being updated and refreshed. Nan Zapanta: I know Philly is designated as a historical building, right? So what were we able to do as far as the design to kind of put that look and feel of the Church Of Christ architecture yet maintain the requirements of the city for it being a historical building? Raymond Frank: Yeah. So on the exterior of the Philadelphia chapel, we couldn’t do too much, as you mentioned, because of the, I guess, the existing condition of the building. And then on the interior, you know, overall and redesign the main sanctuary. Nan Zapanta: There’s unity in the design. Unity in just the intention of everything that’s in the house of worship. How has that highlighted, especially now that you’re continuing in your projects? Raymond Frank: Like you mentioned that there is like a unity of design, a continuity of design, no matter which chapel that you go to. And even though each one is unique, they all have kind of an overall style and design to it that helps to unify and keep the cohesive feeling for the Church. Nan Zapanta: There were other construction projects outside of the Church Of Christ, that completely stopped and didn’t even progress. You know, what can you say is a reason for our continued progress, even though they’re the same challenges that we faced? Raymond Frank: I think one of the main reasons is because, of course, our guidance from our Almighty God. He continues to help the Church no matter what’s happening around us. He continues to guide the Church Administration, to lead us in the right way so that we have all the tools available, the processes ready so that we can continue to do the work that we have to do for the glory of God. Nan Zapanta: I don’t know if you can tell but we’re super excited to be back for a new season of Blueprint. We’ll be featuring stories behind the houses of worship and buildings that were completed during the pandemic. And that’s not all. We’ve also launched a new Instagram account, where we’ll feature behind-the-scenes never-before-seen footage, even bloopers and much, much more. So make sure to follow us at @blueprint.incmedia, please comment and share and we’d love to hear what your favorite Blueprint story is. So before we go, I wanted to read a few messages that we received during the pandemic. One message is from @jyn.bsts, I believe this is Jaynee Bustos. She says, “I’ve always been a big lover of travel shows (ie. Man v. Food, Travel Channel, etc.)  so getting to see the different Church architectures around the world, the work that went into it, makes it so interesting and makes me feel so, so proud. I also love that it’s not just about the Church itself, but also the history behind the city as well (if that makes sense). I know with the current situation making new episodes of Blueprint isn’t possible but I would definitely love to see more in the future when all the chaos ends.” Nan Zapanta: Well, we’re so glad to be back Jaynee, and we appreciate you sharing your messages and also supporting the show. So please look out for the new episodes this new season. And we look forward to sharing more stories with you. We have another one from John Pangalinan. He says, “My favorite shows are Blueprint, Eye ‘N’ See, and The Solution. I share the Blueprint episodes with my engineering student friends. Hearing about the backstory of chapels, how they were designed and built is very interesting to me. Nan Zapanta: Well, you know what, thanks so much, John. That’s a great way to share our content and we hope that you continue to share content and also keep up with our upcoming episodes. So thanks again for the support. Thank you for sharing your messages of support with us. And thank you also for sharing our episodes. Nan Zapanta: The past two years have changed so much in our lives. But it’s also given us an opportunity to reflect on what’s important. And I’m so thankful. Despite all the challenges that we’ve all faced, there’s a place like this one in Anaheim in Southern California, and in your part of the world that we can always call home. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Blueprint where in the end, everything is part of God’s plan. [Show Close]

Available downloads

The Return to Worship Buildings