There was a time when my diary would be full of meetings. Come to think of it, my diary is still full of meetings, but instead of meeting at the Church, in a person’s home or at a local coffee shop, meetings these days takes place online…usually by Zoom.
The photograph attached is of my desk just prior to a Church Committee Meeting. Note the high tech stand I use to perch my tablet on. Sometimes I use a headset and microphone, other times I don’t. I even have special glasses I wear that cut down on blue-light from monitors.
These are especially handy if I have more than one Zoom meeting a day.
Our Shared Ministry began in September of 2019. In January of 2020 I was off work for six weeks medical leave. Three weeks after I got back we went into lockdown. And Zoom Worship was born. Prior to Pandemic, Sunday worship was at 9:00 am at Christ Church, then at 11:00 am at Knox United. Christ Church attendance averaged 15-25 in attendance; Knox United was 5-15 in attendance. Since we started Joint Worship by Zoom, our attendance is up to 50.
Originally, our Zoom Worship was predominantly folks from the two Churches and the Elk Valley. One parishioner from Knox United moved to Penticton and had been lamenting how much she missed her Church family. With Zoom Worship she’s been able to join us nearly every week.
Through word of mouth I received requests for people from slightly farther afield to join our Worship, just to check it out. And slowly, since March, we have grown from 15-20 devices joining to 50 devices. Now, I say devices because I can see how many devices are connected.
I can’t count the individuals and families that join. I’m a little distracted getting ready for Worship.
We have people joining us now from different parts of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Montana, Florida, Texas and England. Now, while they may not be “members” of the Parish, they are more than guests. They have become family. We have recruited folks from Montana to read. At our Advent Lessons and Carols service, we had readers from Christ Church, from Knox United and from our extended family.
If someone had told me when we began Shared Ministry that our reach would extend this far, I would have strongly disagreed. If someone had told me when we started Zoom Worship that we would connect across provinces, states and countries; again, I would have strongly disagreed. And yet, here we are more than strangers on a screen. We are family.
As we evolve with technology and plan our AGM’s and Synod to be entirely online, I am reminded how much we have changed. How much we have grown. Yes, I miss seeing people face to face, in person. I miss being able to sit with people and hold their hand. Yet, when I am not at Worship because I am away, on vacation or retreat, I miss that gathering…that community.
We have weathered deaths, births, weddings and baptisms. And while I would not have thought it possible, we have supported one another through a screen, connected yet still separated by an ocean, and a border (or two). I pray for the day when we are again allowed to travel. I pray for the day when we can connect in person.
Yet I also know that we will continue to have Zoom Worship once we are back in our buildings. Because community is not only a gathering of people in person or on a screen, community is a group of people connected by heart. Our commonality is the love of God, and the care of and for each other. Is that not the truest definition of community?
Thanks be to God!