Yesterday, I heard Governor Scott say that the COVID restrictions were being lifted. Today, our Gathering Again Team said it is time for us to worship in person in the Sanctuary. This means that on June 27th those of us who feel comfortable doing so will gather in our sanctuary for worship. Those who are not yet comfortable or not yet in Greensboro will still be able to join in worship by way of our livestream. For those who gather in person, we are going to wear masks for the foreseeable future just to be on the safe side of things. Likewise, we will do contact tracing and have hand sanitizer available. Wow, I had started to wonder if we would ever get to this point. Hooray!

Before the Governor’s announcement and before our Gathering Again Team met, many of us participated in Communion and Conversation on June 6 to take account of what we have experienced over this last year. The conversation that day was guided by these five questions:

Question 1: Where have you seen God at work in the last year?   What has helped you sustain hope in the future?

Question 2: What new thing did we discover about ourselves and our community over the last year? What did we learn was possible this year that we didn’t know before?

Question 3: Given our experiences, discoveries, and insights from the past year, what excites you about our future as a congregation?

Question 4: Given what we have learned this year, what do we as church need to stop doing? What do we need to start doing? What do we need to continue doing?

Question 5: What question do we need to be asking that we have not asked?

As follow up to the hour or so of conversation, each participant was to share what the a.) smartest thing was that they heard in the last hour, b.) what the most challenging thing they heard in the last hour, and c.) what was the most exciting they heard in the last hour. I received a good number of replies to the questions that were asked that day. Some that caught my eye were—

Our polarization or judgments exclude others and so how can we facilitate more open perspectives, or moderate conversations within the community.

Zoom can be a great tool – especially on cold nights and weeks laden with meetings.  

What excites us about the future. . .new use of technology.

One member said she found the on-line services more meaningful and she herself more focused than in the in-person service.

We are asking good questions and listening–not talking over each other

All of us have a perspective of open mindedness to explore the post-pandemic future. The feeling of looking at our life together as a congregation with new eyes is exciting.

The challenge of moving from our very successful online worship which has brought together many people who ordinarily aren’t physically present to a hybrid of online and in person worship. The challenge of keeping those present online from feeling distant.

People are being less judgmental about others who are able only to get out on a limited basis or who require assistance.

We developed a new kind of patience and growth in learning new ways to communicate.

We discovered we could be with ourselves and survive because God sustained us! 

We also learned how to be active as church in new ways that were meaningful to us and to others.

Our creativity made church larger than we could ever have imagined.

The creative problem solving over the past 14 months is a reflection on the need to continue moving outside of our known patterns of thinking.

How could we impact our polarized society, could we sponsor conversations?

I am so grateful for all the responses and for all who participated in the conversation. Obviously, the conversation is ongoing just as our learning is ongoing. In the days ahead, we will continue to share our thoughts and ideas with one another as we embrace the joy and wonder of being called together to live, to learn, and to love one another, our community, and our world.