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A Spark from St. Cuthbert’s Home Fellowship Group

From Delta
, British Columbia, 
 Diocese of New Westminster
  1. In what ways has our church community felt lost or struggled to see the spirit?
  • some parishioners have been overwhelmed and frightened of Covid, and have struggled to find new way to live life to the fullest during these restricted times
  • some Bible Study groups have had difficulty staying connected; older members could not navigate Zoom meetings (or did not have computers)
  • when our Phone Tree called some parishioners, they asked not to be called again (we respected their request, but do not know the reason)
  • we have not had the ability to minister one-to-one, i.e. when the spirit flows from one person to the other
  • the loss of music and singing
  • the loss of Holy Communion
  • trying to meet the needs of members who were shut-in or in seniors homes
  1. What has surprised you?
  • the joy of simple human connections: phone calls, unrushed visits at 6′ distance, kindness and thoughtfulness of others, the power of a caring and connected community
  • some people felt closer to God; they were continually assured that they are not alone
  • how our church community came together and was so connected, and found ways to make people feel connected to the parish
  • our parish has stepped up, with hard work and much thought, to use the technology available in order to make Sunday worship possible
  • as someone without a computer, I was appreciative that the church office took the time to send me the weekly pew bulletin to I could worship along with the parish
  • the blessing of being part of a small group that supported each other
  1. What have we let go of and do not need to reclaim?
  • busyness; not having enough time
  • long evenings at in-person meetings (vs the joy of the Zoom cut-off time)
  • going out and being with other people when we were sick; we do not need to reclaim epidemics of colds and flu
  • weekly envelope giving (switched to monthly giving or EFT)
  1. What surprises do we need to grieve?
  • deaths of friends; unable to attend funerals and hear about their lives
  • fearfulness of friends during Covid; will they get over it after Covid or remain fearful?
  • separation from friends and family (eg in hospital, seniors homes)
  • we don’t know all our losses yet; they will be revealed as we start to gather again
  • the recognition of how much annual events are important to us
  • negatives effects on mental health; loneliness; unemployment; difficulty in ministering to those needs
  • how the parish children have grown up during the last year, and the loss of being part of their development
  • losing the ability to go and visit people in hospital; not being able to have our outreach services in the care homes
  1. What surprises do we need to celebrate?
  • friendship; community
  • continuing to welcome newcomers during Covid
  • strong communities and friendships will survive
  • the ability of our parish to pivot and successfully provide on-line worship services; the strength of our new on-line presence;
  • parishioners who stepped up to use their gifts or learn new things in order to make on-line worship happen
  • how technology has enabled/maintained our opportunities or fellowship (Zoom coffee time after on-line worship; Zoom Bible studies and social events); instead of visiting one-on-one at in-person coffee time, there is a much broader conversation at the Zoom get-togethers
  • Zoom worship has made the world a bit smaller; family members in other communities and even other countries joined in our Zoom worship
  • resiliency of our parish and the broader community
  • great leadership, and people that stepped up to fill needs
  • ability of shut-in parishioners to attend worship again, via Zoom
  • ability to attend large church events (eg induction of the Bishop) that we would normally not be invited to
  • people have been kinder (taking the time to celebrate life events like birthdays; strangers stopping to talk when we are out walking)
  • children & youth have taken part in the on-line services by reading the lessons
  1. What new sparks are flying in your imagination for the life of our congregation?
  • our parish has so much to offer; how can we bring more people into our church community to share the experience?
  • how can we encourage fearful people to get through their fear, and grow?
  • so many women are seeking connection with other women and have been finding creative ways to connect during Covid; how can we keep those ‘sparks’ going?
  • grow some existing ministries
  • excited about looking forward to our church opening up
  • develop existing or new ministries that join the generations (eg choirs)
  • continuing to offer on-line worship for shut-ins and to expand our church family
  1. What has our community learned from the experience of this past year?
  • we are strong, committed, loving, caring and faithful
  • we have experienced how much we need each other
  • small gestures make a huge difference
  • we have learned how resilient and faithful we are, and how to be on-line
  • we have become more aware of the needs of the broader community and have found new ways to help people
  • how lonely it can be when we are deprived of human contact in worship
  • meeting in person has greater value than we had realized
  • the importance of singing together and how important it is for worship
  • there is more than one way to do things; we have become more creative and innovative
  1. What questions we are being called to wrestle with?
  • how can we make people feel safe again, in church?
  • what do we need to let go of, and what do we need to nurture?
  • are there racial issues in our parish that need to be addressed?
  • women seem to have done better at keeping connected during Covid; how do we make men feel more connected within the parish? Could women host events for the men?
  • how to re-connect with the youth and young adults
  • how to continue to reach out to those who cannot or do not attend services regularly
  1. What hopes for the future and signs of new life is the Spirit showing us?
  • a reaffirmation of the value of what we have, and an encouragement to do more
  • resumption of baptisms and confirmation
  • the spirit will lead us into a new appreciation of being together as a parish
  • our parish was primed for this moment; we had been visioning and planning before Covid; during the pandemic, humanity has been laid bare and the inequities around us have been laid bare; we are now faced with the blatant needs of society and so the timing is right for us to decide on where to put our time and energies

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