Parochial Report Highlights
What were the primary opportunities, innovations and challenges in conducting worship during the pandemic? What did you learn?
Challenges: We needed to adjust quickly to online worship with no planning and having to work, successfully, in reactionary mode. We had inadequate equipment for online worship. We couldn't reach everyone in our parish with online methods. We wanted to keep the children feeling safe and engaged, without overloading them with screen-time.
Innovations: The first and most important innovation was how the members of our staff and vestry became problem solvers who thought out of the box, who stayed open-minded and creative. We discovered our parish was accepting and grateful for some innovative ways to worship together by sending in videos of the readings or prayers of the people to include in the service, or videos and photos for the Peace portion of our service. We created Compline on Facebook, Palm Sunday in a bag, Lent in a bag, ashes to go, Pentecost car parade, digital advent calendar. We translated the kids experience into a video format with drop-off craft bins to keep their experience as consistent as possible. We moved our worship services to Facebook, our website and then ran our worship services on our local access TV channel, for those parishioners who are tech-challenged. We also created new ministries to provide tangible necessities for local people/families in need, which allowed our parishioners to work safely and separately for a combined mission with an overall sense of community.
Opportunities: We found a community beyond our walls that was hungry for worship during difficult times. We were able to reconnect with parishioners that had moved or were homebound. We more carefully used music to provide a direct message of comfort, hope, and transcendence over difficulty. We created a safe space for our children to continue to worship and engage with the church and left them feeling important with random craft drop-offs, and advent surprises. We served the needs of our local community more than we have ever done before.
We learned that it is possible to build a community without being together. We learned that we could stay connected in a meaningful way yet apart and safe. We learned new computer skills. We learned a lesson of modification and acceptance. We learned to be patient. We learned to be persistent and not give up. We learned that, even when we least expected it, we could rise above and do more.
What are the primary opportunities and challenges your church is facing as it plans for the future?
How do we incorporate online worship with live worship so that both congregations have a meaningful experience, and the balance we strike to having good audio and video recording with the aesthetics of in-person worship.
Our music ministry actually grew during this time and became an even more important part of our worship services. How do we continue to support this ministry , allowing it to grow and possibly become something bigger?
In the past we have done dinners, community breakfasts, easter egg hunts for our foster families, living nativity, community interfaith worship services. What types of activities will we be able to support moving forward?
How do we re-invite the children back into our pews as well as keep these outreach services and children’s programs strong?
What three things have changed the most in how the church conducts its ministry?
We have learned to minister to each other. (Even when we cannot gather together physically.)
We brought church outside the doors.
We walked Jesus’ ministry and Word. (And have created 2 new ministries in response to our neighbor’s economic needs, a 24-hour stand-alone food pantry, and a frozen meal “pick-up” program.)
We see discomfort as an opportunity, not a fear.