On Saturday, March 4, 1933, our country was in the darkest depths of the Depression. To this country, a young new President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered these inspirational words, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself--nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
These times are different. The anxiety many of us feel is real. How do we avoid becoming sick? How will we pay the rent or mortgage if we lose our jobs? How long will we need to stay in our homes except to go shopping for necessities?
And for church leaders, there are even more questions? How do we respond to the needs of our members? How do we worship? How do we continue to serve the wider community? How do we strengthen our sense of community and our faith?
Community and faith are central to how we can move forward together. Thankfully, we are now blessed with a variety of ways to maintain and even strengthen community. In 1933, FDR only had newspapers and radio to communicate with the nation. And he used both effectively. His “Fireside Chats” over the radio kept the nation informed and encouraged everyone to be part of the solutions.
Today, we have so many other options. Through Facebook, Zoom, Facetime, Twitter, teleconferences and more, we can talk to and even more importantly talk with members of our faith community. We need to be creative in how we reach out using all the technologies available to us to celebrate our faith. We need to invite our members into our conversations and we need to invite our members who are able to continue to support our ongoing ministry and mission.
Don’t be afraid of over communicating at this time. Invite all lay leaders to regularly call all members of the congregation just to check in. Set up “office hours” for members of the congregation to personally talk via Zoom, Facebook live, or Facetime with clergy. Offer various worship opportunities on Facebook live, You Tube, and Zoom.
This difficult time is a challenge but it is also, as TENS Board Member, Mary Macgregor says, “an opportunity to assess who we are as a community of faith.” Indeed, we can assess and enrich who we are as people of faith, finding new ways to be in community and to serve.