by Mary Frances
One of my clients called the other day. The leadership of the congregation was trying to sort out how to reopen safely. Did people really need to register to come to church? How would they make sure they were staying 6ft apart? What would they do about people who didn’t want to wear a mask? How would they distribute communion? Every time they settled on an answer for one thing, another would pop up. They navigated their way through Sunday worship and then turned their attention to the upcoming list of long put off funerals. How many people could attend a funeral? Would it be live streamed? What to do about the traditional funeral lunch?
These are just a few examples of the many challenges facing congregations today. And, of course, congregations are made up of individuals who have a wide range of opinions, information, and experiences. My mother-in-law called a few days ago. She has some underlying health conditions and her doctor had advised her to wait on getting the vaccine. But she, like many of us, is anxious to get out and see friends, and to resume something like the life she used to have. So, she had just decided to get the J&J vaccine because there have been fewer side effects when the news came out that it was being paused because of a rare but dangerous side effect. She was devastated. On the other side of the spectrum, a business owner I know posted on Facebook that she doesn’t even own a mask; that we all need to overcome our fears and limitations in order to overcome this situation. Really?
Our cable provider has an option where you can put on four news channels at once…CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and BBC. For some reason that is beyond my understanding, my husband loves it. You only hear the sound from the one channel you highlight but still it’s a bit too much for me. It is, however, a quick way to hear the various sound bites coming from different news sources and the reality is that they are all different. I am old enough to remember a time when news was just the facts and interpretation was left to the listener. Not so much anymore. So how on earth are we supposed to navigate this maze of personal experiences and professional interpretation to make decisions that are best for our faith communities?
The upcoming webinar from FaithX, Covid & Congregations: What lies ahead in 2021?, is a great opportunity to hear the latest news on Covid…and let’s face it, the situation changes on a daily basis! But we will have the chance to apply this news directly to congregations. We will hear from Dr. Gayle Balba from Georgetown University. She has the most up-to-date information and can guide us in the challenges that face congregations from communion to funeral lunches, Sunday school ,and so much more. She knows about the variants and the vaccines. Dr. Balba will take questions during the webinar and she invites you to send in questions ahead of time (email firstname.lastname@example.org) so that she can have the best, most up-to-date information for you. Bring your leaders, and get everyone on the same page so that you can plan for a safe and healthy 2021!