The theme this month is “Threshold.” What a wonderful, and well timed theme. We are now approximately six weeks into our pandemic inspired virtual ministry, and we are making great discoveries. With the collective minds of Jennifer Ruth, Tim Raridon, and Andy Crabb we have been able to greatly improve our virtual services on Sunday. The solution to this was many fold, but for posterity it is important to have a direct internet connection to the modem instead of wifi, and explore all the settings options in the platform we’re using. I am grateful that after many hours of prep and unexpected false starts, we were able to successfully offer a virtual memorial service for Marcellene Hawk Mayhall. Friends and family both shared with me how much this service meant to them, and again I am grateful for our collective persistence.
Our virtual ministry offerings during the week are attracting in many ways more activity than we had pre-pandemic due to accessibility of meeting from home and the situation many are finding themselves in with more flexible time on their hands. The exception to this are the working parents who are busier now teaching their children from home as well as maintaining their jobs. John Shartle offers storytelling workshops that are excellent, with six people sharing personal narrative stories connected to a theme like “Threshold” or “Adventure.”. Linda Scharf is doing an excellent job leading meditation three times a week, Melissa Smith is offering a thrice weekly meeting, and Gary Davenport is doing a gardening/planting workshop, all virtually.
I just heard news that Gary Davenport was given permission to be commissioned as a Commissioned Lay Minister. He has been working steadily on this program for more than three years, and has officially passed the threshold, and been accepted. It is now up to our congregation to commission him. We should do this, and celebrate! It’s a noteworthy accomplishment both for Gary and our congregation. I believe he will be our first Commissioned Lay Minister in this congregation, and I’m hopeful there will be others who feel called to follow this path.
None of us truly knows what the future will hold in the coming months. But I am certain that virtual ministry will continue to play an important role in the life of our church, no matter what happens. I think it would be beneficial for each of us to bring our ideas to each other about ways we can experiment and improve the virtual experience and physical distance experience in the coming months. As the weather gets nice and summer approaches, I anticipate that physical distance encounters will become increasingly common, especially outdoors. I know we typically have scheduled our picnic and other outdoor events such as dinners, fundraisers, and parties. Is there a way we can do this virtually and possibly in person, keeping safety at the fore of our mind?
As I’ve said in prior reports, and it bears repeating, one of the greatest strengths of this church is our ability to be flexible and unafraid of innovation. This has served us well in these last six weeks (even with the frustrations), and it will continue to serve us well in the months ahead. My sense as the minister is that morale and pride in our church is quite high right now. I don’t get the sense many are wondering how they can cut their pledge in fear of what may come, or believe that the church community is optional. I am receiving the consistent message from various friends and members of every age and circumstance: our church is crucial in the times we are in to help people get through their weeks. We are crucial in offering a beacon toward something greater than fear, and so far even those who have experienced loss of loved ones and loss of employment are feeling loved and buoyed by our shared ministry. I hope this too gives each one of us a sense of pride and mission: we are a crucial part of the times we are in, and we are a crucial part of setting the groundwork of response for what comes next.