UCC churches connecting more online
The Rev. Mike Denton - conference minister of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ
"Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Go ahead and do it again," says Mike in many of his daily posts to the conference's email Google Group.
Early on, he suggested each congregation plan to prepare for the disruption that would be caused by COVID-19. He called for efforts to limit exposure "to ourselves, our communities and those we care for and love."
Mike suggested not having in-person worship six weeks through Holy Week and Easter, cancelling or postponing face-to-face meetings and gatherings (including funerals and weddings), suspending face-to-face pastoral visits and switching to video conferencing, phone calls, emails or letters for the foreseeable future, conversing with groups using the building, promoting online and mail-in giving and designing a recovery plan.
The PNC Board has cancelled the in-person business portion of its Annual Meeting that was scheduled April 24 in Spokane. Other ways will be found online to share workshops and worship.
He called churches to consider offering their buildings for emergency usage if needed, such as if hospitals exceed capacity or shelters need space for homeless people with social distancing.
As of March 21, conference camps were experiencing cancellations, so space was available. Pilgrim Firs at Port Orchard signed on to use its rooms to house people experiencing homelessness who need shelters with social distancing. N-Sid-Sen on Lake Coeur d'Alene has offered its facilities as an Idaho election site to give people social distancing.
"These days are challenging ones and they will not be without pain," he said. "However, I know we would all rather choose some pain now to participate in protecting others from suffering and death. Our behavior and willingness to participate in social distancing, hand washing and disinfecting could lower this number significantly.
"There will be another side of this. We will celebrate and worship together again. In the meantime, may God help us answer the call before us at this time," he said.
The conference has compiled a list posted online that indicates 24 of its 71 congregations have services online through Facebook, Youtube and Zoom.
The PNC also has scheduled gatherings online using Ring Central and Zoom meetings for "worshiping together when we can't be together, a conference-wide check-in, a staff community office hour, pastoral care during an outbreak, children and youth ministers, moderators meeting, church administration and fiduciary considerations and a clergy prayer group.
For information, call 206-838-7575 or visit centeringout.blog or pncucc.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree,April, 2020