For God hath not given a spirit of fear; but of power and love and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7
The pandemic has been with us for nine months now. Each of us has responded to the coronavirus in our own way. And each church has done the same. Sadly, many communities of faith have responded fearfully. Many churches have been closed since this past March. The Church of St. Michael & St. George, thankfully, is not one of them.
When the virus first appeared as a threat last March, our church was closed, so we produced videos of daily and Sunday services. Beautifully so. In June, the bishop allowed us back into our church on Sundays. We returned with joy and with a number of responsible, virus-related procedures and protocols firmly in place. Church was “live” again. But not so fast! The pandemic quickly got worse and we were asked to close our church once again. We complied and continued to produce and make videos of our many services available to our parishioners and, one hopes, to a broader audience.
But we did more. With a spirit of power and love and of a sound mind, our leaders imagined a bolder and more creative response. Sunday services would be moved outdoors! Our playground became our sanctuary. Three morning services were needed to meet demand, each with masked clergy and congregants all keeping their distances. In-person worship went on and it was glorious. Nearly 150 hardy parishioners and our remarkable clergy are still out there each Sunday morning, worshiping God and not responding in fear to the presence of this awful pandemic. Many more enjoy the video versions of our many services in a more comfortable and slightly safer space.
I am very proud of our church. Our response to these dark times has been powerful and loving and of a sound mind. We have not operated out of fear. We seem to have come to the conclusion that the value of worshiping together often outweighs the danger associated with doing so. A lot of bad has come out of these strange and dark times. But what we have imagined and done and learned about ourselves as a church is good and will be a part of us long after the virus has met its match. Thanks be to God.