Dear Avon Lake UCC Friends,
I have just spent three days with UCC Senior Ministers from around the country. This conference happens every year (well, except for last year!) and usually it centers around an outside speaker – a “big name” who shares new ideas with us about ministry and leadership.
This year we spent time in conversation with one another about ministry during the pandemic – sharing best practices, sharing challenges, talking about what we’ve learned, wondering together about what the church might look like, post-pandemic, and how we can best prepare for the future.
I learned about a church in Oregon that has turned part of its building into shelter for people who are without homes. The minister there told us that giving Narcan is a regular part of her week…
A church in Connecticut rewrote its Sunday School curriculum and fashioned lesson plans for children all about the intersection of science and religion; the students love it and are attending enthusiastically.
A church in Virginia used the pandemic time to become “net zero”, making its building as eco-friendly as possible.
A church in Minnesota gave grants to five entrepreneurs to fund projects to make the world better, to promote human flourishing.
A church in Massachusetts decided to give all “loose offering” from the offering plate to its mission partners – a different project each week. Their loose offering increased 700%.
These are only a few of the churches represented at our conference this week. As the conference ends, I am left with a feeling of hope about the future of the church. I know the church will change, but I also know the church is in good hands!
At our first evening worship service, we were each given a rock; the rock represents the burden of ministry during the pandemic. We were invited to lay the burden down and instead pick up a sea shell – something much lighter.
At our second evening worship service, we had “COVID communion” together and we prayed that it would give us the spiritual nourishment we need to be the leaders God needs us to be.
I look forward to returning to Avon Lake UCC with renewed energy and enthusiasm for our Year of Connection, Growing People to Serve God and Others.