Last month a team of 20 clergy and lay leaders reached out to and successfully connected with 175 individuals in our parish, to hear what’s on people’s minds and hearts. Some met in person or on Zoom in small groups; others connected one-on-one over the phone. These 3 questions were asked to guide the conversation and listening:
1) What has been most pressing or challenging to you in the past 6 months?
2) How have you responded or want to respond to what you’ve experienced or heard others talk about?
3) What has been/feels most hopeful for you during this time?
Many expressed grief about what they can no longer do at/in connection with Redeemer, alongside gratitude and appreciation for the variety of offerings during Coronatide and the ways we are adapting and staying connected. A specific desire for more ways to gather, connect and share in small groups was expressed. Our team of listeners also heard a mixture of gratitude for blessings/silver-linings of this time mixed with guilt and acknowledgment of privilege, as well as a mix of concern about personal/daily and communal/national/global challenges. Many are looking to Redeemer to help frame our “new normal”, be stewards of hope, keep preaching Good News of hope and love over fear. In general, folks are coping and getting by.
Below is a bullet point summary of what we heard in response to our 3 focus questions.
What has been most pressing/challenging in the last 6 months?
- missing touch, physical connection, eye contact, hugs; church; communion
- feeling isolated and disconnected
- ongoing, chronic uncertainty; not being able to plan and/but having to make decisions anyway; fatigue over having to be “hyper-vigilant” all the time, in daily life
- angst over the state of our country; political divide; racial tensions; digital divide and schools; climate change; COVID
- grieving traditions, holidays, celebrations of milestones
- desire to be of help/to make a positive difference but not knowing how to, being stuck at home and having to restrict human interactions due to COVID
How have you responded/ chosen to respond?
- adapting/finding ways to stay connected with people (learning how to use social media, Zoom; good old telephone; getting together outdoors safe/social distancing); finding or creating “church” in other ways
- using this time for personal/spiritual growth and learning (lots of reading; listening to podcasts, meditations/reflections)
- spending more time outdoors, going for walks, appreciating nature
- finding meaningful ways to serve by delivering food, helping neighbors
Where have you found hope?
- in the resurrection, the bigger picture; faith in God and that good/light will prevail
- in Redeemer’s services, conversations, offerings; message of love repeated regularly
- in friendships, relationships, marriages
- in historical perspective and also modern technology/future vaccine
- in possibility that this period will be transformative and result in meaningful change for social justice; and that Redeemer will help frame and guide this transformation for our parishioners/members
- in the younger generation and new leaders to emerge