By Kari Warnke
Separated For Now, Together in Christ Always
It’s December and so much has happened since March! It seems like just yesterday and a million years ago since we were worshipping in the sanctuary together. Like all churches when the pandemic hit, we had to quickly come up with a new way to “be the church”. We thought of a new tag line, “Separated for now, together in Christ always” and got to work.
Here are some ways that we have found to stay connected as a community.
Asking for Feedback and Acting On It
We needed meaningful (and fun) ways to stay connected, so we asked our congregation for feedback. We learned that it was meaningful and important for our people to see not only staff but also the people of our congregation in our worship services and other online offerings. So, we got creative.
- We asked our members to record the readings, prayers, and other parts of worship from home.
- We offered a weekly member highlight video where members of the congregation shared a talent or a hobby.
- Our youth did a “Make Good News the Norm” video where they shared all the good they saw in the world that week.
- We had “Kids Corner” during our Tuesday morning kid’s time video each week. Kids would make a how-to video or share a gift or talent. There was everything from singing and playing instruments to how to make a ball run. My favorite is this “How to Fish” video:
Connecting around food on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings is an important part of the fellowship ministry of our congregation. We are lucky to have a talented chef on staff who has definitely elevated church basement dining!
- Wednesday Night Drive-Thru: Before COVID one of our most beloved community offerings was our Wednesday Night Dinner when two hundred people gathered at church to share a meal. So, to maintain some sense of community, forge new connections between members, and reach our elders and medically vulnerable, the Wednesday Night Drive-Thru was born. Members sign up to receive a dinner and to deliver a meal to someone who cannot get out to pick one up.
As time marches on we will continue to think creatively to find new ways to connect safely around food. These are two of the Drive-Thru events we have scheduled for the holiday season.
- Pastors Pass Pumpkin Pie Drive-Thru for Thanksgiving
- Donut Party Drive-Thru the Sunday our virtual Children’s Christmas program airs.
Moving Forward Together
Pandemic fatigue is real. Parents and families are overwhelmed with school, work, and being together 24/7. Loneliness is real, especially among our elders and medically vulnerable. Exhaustion is real. Some days it feels like we are swimming in grief and trauma. But, we will continue to work hard, really knowing that the church is not the building. The church is all of us connecting and sharing God’s love, no matter what. We might be separated for now, but we are together in Christ always.
About the Author
Kari Warnke is the Director of Children and Family Ministry at Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina, MN.
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