Now that we are settling into yet another new “normal” at UCUCC, we thought it would be good to hear about the experiences of a couple of people—from inside the church building and online.
“Oh, how I have missed all of you! I see a few members on various Zoom gatherings; I have spoken with quite a few of you on the phone; we have exchanged some notes and letters. But I have not SEEN you in person for a long, long time.
So coming to worship in person was something I longed to do. When the time finally came – I went, with a little hesitancy about safety, but mostly excitement and joy. It was comforting and healing to my soul to see familiar and loved faces, even though they were half covered with a mask! A brief hand on the arm; smiling with our eyes; nodding with joy at one another.
It was a little odd. I deeply missed loudly singing beloved hymns and the choir. I really missed the children! But here we were, all together, and ready to worship God. On communion Sunday we came forward as usual, but the bread was handed to me with tongs (!) and we drank from the little glasses. I missed the communal and theological passion of the common cup. Still, it was the table of Christ where all are welcome – everyone of us! – and we all ate of The Bread of Life, and drank the Cup of Blessing.
Church can happen anywhere and it has for nearly 2 years – on Zoom, Facebook, YouTube. It’s been good in many ways. But for me, church in person, where we are gathered as the Body of Christ with real bodies, is a holy gift that I am grateful for.”
~ Gail Crouch
“My name is Dana Weir, and I am a long distance member of UCUCC. I am filled with gratitude, every week, for the opportunity to worship online with a community that truly feels like a “church home.” UCUCC is a unique church culture, where the Spirit is palpable, the community is warm and welcoming, and folks are doing the authentic, hard work of love and justice.
My rhythm on Sunday has shifted to accommodate the new 5pm online worship time. It is a shift, but I find I enjoy the early evening schedule for worship. I love viewing the parts of the service that are recorded in the morning – I almost feel like I’m there! The live chat helps me continue to feel connected to the pastors and other online worshipers.
Having served on the Emergence Team, I know how important it is to provide the pastors and tech wizards with time to knit together the online service. They are doing incredible, ambitious work to create such a rich online church experience, one that allows people to be included from around the region and around the globe. I’ll continue to be present for this experience, with deep gratitude!”
“My name is Lisa Klingler and I am a member of both the Emergence and the Welcoming Teams at UCUCC. One of my favorite contemporary hymns is ‘Draw the Circle Wide’ and I have been reflecting this week on how wonderful it is that with the new combination of in-person and online worship, we are able to offer an even wider welcome as we emerge.
As one who finds myself among those who don’t feel quite ready to be back ‘in the building’ for a variety of reasons, I personally appreciate the ability to stay connected to this beloved community through digital ministry while staying home and safe. But additionally, I am energized by this new opportunity to be connected and enriched by other ‘believers, seekers, and doubters’ who may journey with us in new ways that aren’t constrained by the boundaries of physical space.
Just as I loved shaking hands and greeting the congregation on the front steps of the church on Sunday morning, I love being a “virtual greeter,” welcoming people in the chat as they sign on for evening online worship. Our congregation has always been known for its warm welcome to those who pass through our doors. With our growing online ministry, we have the opportunity to offer an even wider welcome outside our church doors. Let us continue to draw the circle wide!”