“I feel like I have learned so many things since March 2020, but it’s gotten to be too much. I don’t have time to stop and take it all in,” shared a colleague in ministry. And his statement wasn’t the first time I had heard this from another pastor or from a church musician or from the president of a congregational council. The pandemic has been going on for over a year and has forced each of us to continually pivot in unexpected ways. We’ve been in a time rich with learning and new insights; as church leaders we’ve had to dive into everything from learning how to use new technology to trying to decipher what the constant stream of medical data might have to say to our church.
In all of this, have we really had the time or opportunity to just stop and sit with what we’ve been through? It often feels like an impossible task to get started on due to the major new things that continue to unfold around us.
I, for one, kept thinking to myself that I wasn’t ready to start processing the pandemic. How could I when I had been through so many experiences and changes in my ministry and calling? How could I when I didn’t know for sure what would happen in the next month with changing COVID numbers, vaccine hesitations from others, and continuing political rumblings?
But, I finally realized that like most things in life, the perfect time to start processing this past year wasn’t going to just magically appear. I would have to make the choice to create space in my life to start reflecting on what I had learned. It was scary; it was daunting. I wondered what I would uncover about myself, my faith, and my calling. I wondered how I could connect with God through it.
Once I gave myself the grace to start gently and slowly working through the past sixteen months, things began to change for me. I became grateful for things I would never have thought I could be grateful for, and I began to feel like renewal and hope for the future was possible again.
Need Time Out to Process?
Join the author, Rev. Emily McQuillan, for an intentional workshop series over three weeks at the end of July through the first weeks of August. This workshop, Processing the Pandemic for Ministry, will give you the space, tools, and support you need to move ahead with hope.
About the Author
Rev. Emily McQuillan is an ELCA pastor who has served in rural and suburban settings. She works for Luther Seminary’s Faith+Lead as a web and content specialist and loves supporting the wider Christian community through writing articles, managing online courses for the Faith+Lead Learning Lab, and providing support at conferences like the Festival of Homiletics. Emily previously worked in higher education as a writing instructor. She has been creating and leading workshops and retreats since 2008.
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