The second day of Convention began with a slightly smaller (only 250!) but no less enthusiastic group of participants. Bishop Ian helped orient us in today’s work by reviewing the Tools for Mutuality, ensuring that our session and future conversations are an inclusive and safe place to discuss these big questions. After explaining the new, streamlined processes we developed, we were ready to discuss the question of the day:
Which of the pandemic changes we have already made will we KEEP and thereby encourage a continuing culture of discovery in parishes?
Over three rounds of conversations, our groups explored a variety of important aspects of what we have experienced and learned as a church and as individuals during the last seven months of this pandemic. Where do we find God, and how are we looking for God in these new experiences? What new opportunities do we have to enter into church in new ways, and more importantly, what new opportunities do we have to bring the church to meet people where they are in their lives and in the world? And on top of it all, as we try to hold so many things together during this difficult time, how do we avoid burnout? What can try stopping in order to try on something new?
Each group was asked to come up with one try-on that they would like to pursue (listed below). As we met back one final time and recapped our discussions, we came up with four broad categories of work our participants wanted to address moving forward. If you are interested in being involved in one or more of the following efforts, please reach out to the designated contact person so that you get the Zoom details to participate.
#1 Reach New People
The move to online, virtual church has vastly expanded the reach of our parishes. People are no longer limited by distance, geography, mobility, or health. What opportunities are there to reach people who we have not been able to reach before? How might we think outside of the box and imagine new and meaningful ways to connect with God and one another?
To be determined by Doodle Poll. Contact Rev. Baker for details.
The Rev. Margie Baker
#2 Improving Use and Access to Technology
Technology has allowed us to adapt church to today’s challenges in ways that would not have been possible a decade ago. And technology can be a barrier to participation, either because of a lack of availability or a lack of familiarity. How can we support greater access and comfort to technology as well as access to the internet so that we don’t leave people out and behind?
November 9, 2020
@ 11:00 am
Who knew we would all become video streaming experts in 2020? We have learned so much, now let us share that knowledge! What would be possible if we worked together on sharing resources, whether it is technical skills, worship services, or even pre-recorded sermons?
December 1, 2020
#4 Building Community
Isolation and loneliness is a huge problem as we continue through this pandemic, and it is forcing us to be intentional about how we grow and foster community. In a world now dominated by computer screens and video calls, how do we forge human connection?
November 12, 2020
The Rev. Diana Rogers
The Full List of Try-ons
What will you be inspired to try yourself?
- Use technology as an additional way to reach out to people who have been excluded (such as deaf or Spanish speaking)
- Encourage the expansion of the team responsible for Sunday worship, certainly beyond just parish clergy, so that sabbath is possible
- Obtain broadband access for everyone in order to foster connectedness
- Collaborate with other churches in the area and ask the diocese to help us get computers to the elderly along with WIFI so they don’t feel left out of this.
- Try on using the building itself for new ideas/functions – Engaging the arts in new ways / providing safe study space / sheltering / community needs
- Explore an online platform for sharing and exploring ideas. Post images to Instagram of home sacred spaces; invite contributions. Make sharing sacred spaces the focus for a service every so often. Exploring the intersection of Jesus’s teachings, and the symbols we have chosen for our homes and to express our faith.
- A monthly service with distanced significant speaker and small group follow up/interaction
- Collaborate without fear of giving up something or losing one’s own church or way of doing things; we are a unique church which needs to share who we are with a world who needs to hear our unique message of God’s love; try on a media ministry – diocesan-wide and maybe nationally.
- Pull people together in small groups beyond parish borders, sharing resources: examples were Bible Study, Racial Healing Conversations, Eco-justice events
- Maybe as a diocese we have learning communities, through prayer, conversation, discernment, continue to ask the question: What’s God inviting us to do or to pay attention to? And, in the meantime, how to we share our resources (digital expertise, funds, worship) more broadly, and open accessibility. Take it out of silos and into an open source resource for everyone to participate in.
- Yoked parishes that use technology to share a priest.
- Gathering information through a survey of what other churches or non faith organizations are doing to help people connect., then share that list both within the parish and to the wider community.
- Create an intergenerational platform for all people. We need to educate upward so that everybody can participate and speak the language, technology being the language. Train all comers who need to learn how to use technology, zoom, systems, phones, computers, etc.
- More outside worship: Christmas outside, Christmas bonfire service (solo-stove) and take it on the road – connect with people who are isolated and can’t come to us
- Create a loose federation of parishes that can come together and collaborate were we overlap and learn from one another. Share programs and outreach, build community in collaboration.
- Trying to bring our worship to outside the walls and around the town (Town green, front porches, etc)
- Topical sessions for sharing outcomes & cross-fertilizing, brainstorming eg. music, children, Christmas, those with internet access issues, charitable outreach
- Try building communities of connection – house church, electronic, with people we connect in public spaces.
- Have everyone (all clergy and laity) contribute to the library of sermons : grief, care givers, addiction
- Invite everyone, and do everything through mixed media.
- What if on Sunday morning we allowed more vulnerability at church? Wrestling more with the Gospel, conversation, allowing for more vulnerability. Don’t have to have a stiff upper lip. More sharing at church: gratitudes allows for some expression of vulnerability. Rotating preaching duties to allow for more voices in church.
- Agape feast instead of communion, lay led, bless the bread you’ve brought, grace over the meal
- Let go of things that aren’t working to make room for trying on something new… or resting
- Seek those we are not reaching with a more personal invitation
- Pooling resources, through ECCT or through Regions, or informally through churches working together. What can we share? Finding money for technology, people with tech knowledge, help with production:
- ECCT TV!
Thank you to the Rev. Matthew Emery for dropping in to help illustrate our work!