When Ministry Changes
By: The Rev. Shannon Kelly
Over the last few weeks, as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread rapidly throughout the world, we have all had to adapt to a new kind of ministry. Our worship, conversations, and planning have shifted to online formats. We have had to get creative about how we can stay connected, even as we are physically separate from one another.
Brené Brown has been ringing in my ears this last week as I have been talking to campus ministers, young adult ministers, and colleagues. She says, “We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” So as we socially distance ourselves, as we separate ourselves from one another in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and spread the virus to those most vulnerable, how can we stay connected?
Through all the conversations I have had this week, people have talked about and celebrated ways that they have had to try new ways of doing ministry. They have mourned what we have lost from being together as we cannot do the passing of the peace, play games, pray and sing in the same space, and eat with one another. AND they have also noticed new life and new ministry in the midst of this by:
- creating small groups online
- continuing food pantry distribution in a safe way for young adults and families that are food insecure
- helping young adults find housing and possible job connections
- reallocating funds that would have been spent on programming to an emergency fund for food, housing, and basic necessities
- sending letters and postcards to people in their community
- connecting with alumni who have joined in their online gatherings
- sharing tea, arts and crafts, prayer, joy and sorrow over Zoom calls
- connecting with other ministers online for support and guidance
- trying to figure out how to help people celebrate graduations online
While these are difficult times, while each day seems to throw something new at us, while we are trying to manage the best we can as our rhythm of life has been thrown out of balance, we are still connecting. We are still coming together. We are still able to share joy and sorrow, ask for help and offer help, give each other permission to mourn a loss, and pray. We are praying for the medical workers and researchers, for those who are sick from any ailment, for those who are helping, for those who are in unsafe home situations in this time of shelter-in-place, for those who we are far from, for our communities and for our family and friends.
In this time of great change, let us now forget that we are meant to be connected. When two or three of us are gathered, God is there. God is here. Thanks be to God.