When COVID-19 Paused Services
COVID-19 has changed many intended plans for 2020, some big and some small. The intention to be more regular in posting updates is definitely a small thing that was dropped when we suddenly pivoted in March. But it is worth backtracking a little and sharing our updates and journey of how we have experienced the pandemic as a church. I hope you will bear with us as we document some of our experiences that look very different in 2020.
In fall 2019, as part of the Lawrence County Bicentennial Celebration, one of our members had been in the archives and shared that there was a time in 1918 when the church had been closed briefly due to the Spanish Flu epidemic. We never imagined that we were soon facing a pandemic that would draw many comparisons to 1918 and that St John’s would be closed briefly again.
Like many people across the globe, we were going through our normal activities as a church in early March. For St. John’s that meant coordinating Lenten Soup Suppers, planning for an inside church clean up day, and updating the lay leader reading/coffee hour lists.
But then with the rapid spread of COVID-19, Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows directed churches in our diocese to cease in-person worship by Sunday, March 15. We decided that we would cease our in-person gatherings immediately on Friday, March 13.
We anticipated that we would be back together soon – initially continuing to plan to re-gather in-person for Holy Week. But that wasn’t to be. Instead we had some creative members come up with a way for us to safely take home a palm for Palm Sunday while picking up lessons for Holy Week.
Soon we were optimistically looking forward to a possible Pentecost gathering. We continued to call and check-in on members to see how everyone was doing with the sudden shift in quarantine being common language. Some members began working remotely, members started making masks in bulk, and many were just worried about one another during all the uncertainty.
It became apparent that “return to normal” wasn’t going to happen as we had originally hoped. We began discussing online Morning Prayer as an option. Naturally, we started with a Virtual Coffee Hour on Sunday, June 7th. We were excited to Zoom together, some of us for the very first time!It was definitely a different experience but it felt great to see so many faces that we had missed for those months.