Since its debut in 2010, the Shine Gala at Southeast Christian Church has provided an evening of fun and fellowship for the disabilities community while celebrating God’s unique and image-bearing design for each of us. Each October, hundreds of guests and volunteers come together to dance, play games and make lifelong friendships. Anticipation and excitement build throughout the year for the annual bash.

However, like many other events in 2020, the Shine Gala was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadness followed for guests, volunteers and staff in the days and weeks after the announcement in July. As the disappointment lingered into late summer, opportunity knocked and a new way for the Shine Disabilities Ministry family to celebrate together emerged through the use of technology.

What started as an idea in early August became a reality Oct. 16 with the premiere of Shine Online, a video event and celebration that was shared on the Shine Ministry Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Hosted by the Shine Ministry team, Shine Online featured numerous segments highlighting some of the most popular elements of the annual Shine Gala, including karaoke, games, a salon and dancing. The guest list included appearances and messages from Senior Pastor Kyle Idleman, Associate Pastor Matt Reagan, Blankenbaker Campus Pastor Neal Gossett and Pastor Dave Stone, as well as several other close friends to the ministry. Having so many familiar faces join us for Shine Online made it even more special for our team.

The goal for Shine Online was to create a new way for friends, families and volunteers connected to the Shine Ministry to celebrate the annual Shine Gala together. Whether it was small watch parties hosted by individuals and families, larger watch parties in group homes or interaction through social media, Shine Online achieved its goal of bringing everyone together for an evening of fun.

As Shine Online began, the comments and chat sections on both Facebook and YouTube were busy as viewers shared in the laughter during the six-foot salon and karaoke segments while also worshiping together with Awaken Worship.

The positive response to Shine Online has been incredibly encouraging for the Shine Ministry team. God has used technology to help us reconnect with friends and families we have not seen in a long time while also opening doors to families who weren’t previously connected to our church. It has also allowed us to create more awareness for the numerous ways to find community, both in person and online.

We can see God moving through our ministry, and we praise Him for how He continues to show us new ways to build community, provide encouragement and share the name of Jesus with all people.

A huge thank you is in order for the talented video production team of Julia Prendergast, Jonathan Heffley and Joel Wyant in Southeast’s MarCom Ministry, which produced Shine Online. From the initial idea and vision to the preparations and multiple days of recording to the final product that was shared online, Julia, Jonathan and Joel supported and worked alongside our team to help create something fun for our ministry and glorifying to God. We literally could not have created Shine Online without them.

If you missed Shine Online when it premiered or would like to watch it again, it is archived and available for viewing anytime on both the Shine Ministry Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ShineSoutheastChristian) as well as the Southeast Shine Ministry YouTube channel.

Garett Wall is an associate in Southeast’s Shine Disabilities Ministry.