March 15th, 2020, life as we knew it changed as we gathered following worship and decided that all in-person activities would stop as increasing concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus emerged.
We were in the 3rd week of Lent and moving toward Easter. How would we continue the life and work of the pastoral charge? How could we stay connected with our congregations?
The Spiritual Enrichment & Outreach Team quickly took on the responsibility of communicating weekly via our pastoral charge email list. Two team members develop a reflection that is sent to everyone midweek. Our reflection focuses on what is currently happening around us as we reflect on the seasons of the church calendar, the seasons of nature, and on how we are managing with all that is happening on a daily/weekly basis.
Each week, the two of us discuss the theme for the week by telephone and determine what resources we might use to create the reflection. Then, one person writes the first draft, shares, revises, and we then send it to the membership. We have a group subscription to The Prayer Bench, which provided us with useful resources. We also used our own personal libraries with books by Joyce Rupp and others, which often captured our thinking, and on occasion we would use online sources. (There is not a specific online site we use, however we might research the theme or use a site we know about on the theme.)
Our reflections are not long, two or three paragraphs at most, and always conversational. There’s an introduction to the theme, a personal reflection or poem, and a closing inviting everyone to consider what this means for them in the week ahead.
We have invited feedback from our readers, and have asked others if they would like to share their views. We have received many emails expressing appreciation for the messages over the past year. One group is using the Midweek Connection as a reflection at their meetings.
We believe that our weekly email message has been helpful in keeping people engaged, offering some spiritual nourishment, and maintaining our connection with our church community.