Our drive in worship began on June 14 and has been well received and appreciated. It allows folks to gain a greater sense of communal worship, the return of live music and actually being able to see one another. We plan to continue outside utilizing the summer weather which allows us to proceed cautiously, while watching what is happening in the community around the virus. We average 30 cars in the parking lot as well as folks joining us virtually and by zoom phone call in.
We have found ways to adapt to offering collection and the celebration of communion which took some planning and thought. But we are making it work and have found ways to be creative with fellowship. While still a tough challenge we did a BYOC (Bring your own Coffee) on fathers day, giving each car prepackaged baggies of donut holes. We are currently working on a way to do our annual church picnic—perhaps as a “bring your own picnic” picnic as part of a special worship service.
Through all of this the session continues to work on revamping our guideline and now has ‘Concord Cares More Guidelines” These include more details regarding building use, guidelines for expected behaviors in the parking lot as well need for social distancing and use of masks. This at times has been tedious work but the session has worked well together in the hope of loving one another in providing safe practices to protect all of us. All of these guidelines have been communicated to the congregation and are under continual evaluation as we make plans to eventually return to worship inside the building.
We have all learned to adapt to the changes and challenges we face. The session meets more frequently for shorter periods of time to address needs of congregation and continue the ongoing work of the guidelines. It has taken a lot of time and energy to work out details and keep an eye on the big picture through all of this, but they have done an excellent job. I appreciate them and that appreciation is reciprocated to me. We truly live out the ideal that we are all in this together.
For me personally this has taken considerable effort and emotional energy, especially in keeping in touch with people via phone, email and zoom. Yet it has given me the opportunity to be creative and to be an encourager as we are all seeking to live out our faith in these challenging times. It has certainly been helpful to me that the church has been flexible, caring, willing to try new things and to be grateful for all we have been blessed with. This makes all my work worthwhile. It has been a lot of heart and head work for me in rethinking and helping the church to rethink what exactly it means to be the Church. I have repeatedly said that I believe we are the Church of Christ and we are here for such a time as this.
While I feel most days that I have grown a new appendage on my ear—my phone, I feel resolved to do the best I can knowing that God is with us. I am always looking for ways to connect with the congregation. Recently, I have invited folks to bring their own lawn chair and sit under the trees at the church one evening a week so we can talk about how they are experiencing God in all of this.
I continue my once or twice a week pastor check in emails that I began back in March, as we way to help keep folks informed but also to share perspective on what is happening in our world. And I also participate in the congregation’s weekly prayer group via zoom. So while pastoral care looks different—it is happening. It is also vital that this work is not just up to me as the congregation, session and deacons make the effort to care for one another as well.
It’s a time of pandemic, protest and politics and it has been disorienting to all of us. Yet I am hopeful that beyond the challenges it has also given the congregation and myself the freedom to be creative and to try things we would likely not have done without it. We forge onward within and without the walls of our building with a new sense of God’s care and provision, of gratitude and of possibilities as we move forward in God’s leading.
Telephone: (724) 452-7515
FAX: (724) 452-7522
Physical Address: 134-B South Main St, Zelienople, PA 16063