Monday, July 27, 2020
By Rev. J.C. Austin

A few weeks ago, we did a Spotlight story on what it takes to do Sunday worship these days, to which we got a lot of positive response. So we thought it might be interesting to give you a sense of what the life of the church is like through the eyes of the staff, the other days of the week during the pandemic. Here is a collection of snapshots to help you understand that.

The staff has been working remotely as much as possible since March 16; they only come to the church building when their work absolutely requires it to get done. That means that our facilities and finance teams are generally onsite, but everyone else is mostly working from home.

Mondays are our staff meeting day, just as they were before the pandemic. We gather at 2:15 p.m. every Monday to check in with each other, address issues and questions that involve everyone, and run through the calendar over the next 4-6 weeks to make sure everything is lined up the way it should be. We simply do this meeting using Zoom now, instead of gathering around the same table. That is one of the few things that has remained more or less the same since the pandemic began, though.
As you read in a previous article, Dave Macbeth now comes in to record all the music for both services during the week prior to each Sunday, along with guest musicians for traditional worship and members of our contemporary worship band. (right: he hosts an online gathering of the Chancel Choir, via Zoom)
We started this pattern at the beginning of April when we first started seeing evidence that the virus might be spread by aerosol particles and not simply liquid droplets; it reduces the number of people in the worship space at any one time for the services down to a bare minimum.

Carol Burns, our Communications Manager, has stepped up our social media activity, added the weekly Spotlight publication, and now “hosts” the Sunday morning worship livestreams in real time, as the voice of the church on Facebook Live.

I have been tempted to change the title of Cristy Mette, our Administrative Operations Manager, to “Zoom-master” because of how she has become our resident expert and supervisor of all our meetings, educational programs, and fellowship gatherings using Zoom videoconferencing. But that work is simply in addition to what she was already doing in terms of our various administrative operations in the church.

Sue Bennetch, our Pastoral Associate, continues her faithful ministry of pastoral care with people having specific pastoral needs across the congregation. But she has also worked with the Deacons to develop a congregation-wide program that checks in regularly with all of our members at different times, to see how they are weathering the pandemic.
She is also working with the Congregational Life Committee to develop new ways for us to come together as a church community when we cannot safely gather physically, the way we would like, such as the virtual Easter Hospitality time, virtual pizza party (right) , and recent Parking Lot Trivia Night.
Andie Barbehenn, our Preschool Director, along with all of our Preschool teachers and staff, have been working in a whole new world since mid-March. With very little notice or preparation, they shifted to a “digital-only” Preschool through the spring that continued to provide education and care to our Preschool students while they were staying at home.

Currently, they are operating the Summer Splash childcare program while also staying hard at work with plans about how to continue the ministry of the Preschool this fall, whether they can do so in person, completely online, or some mixture of the two.
And finally, Rebecca Angione, our Facilities Director, along with Jake Brown and Kyle Willans as our Facilities Associates, continue to keep our buildings running and maintained while we are all away from them. Oddly, this is even more challenging in some ways than when we were using them, because it turns out there are issues that arise from not using the building enough, rather than using it too much!
So they are there every week making sure that, when the time comes, the building will be ready to support our worship and ministries once again. (above: this message is on the monitor [TV] displays around the building)

 I know I speak for the whole staff when I say we are beyond grateful for the support we’ve received from the congregation during these challenging times, and for the opportunity to be in ministry with all of you in our own ways!