GROWING THE POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & Churches Grapple With The Vaxxed And Unvaxxed Divide

by Blake Farmer, NPR, 5/16/21.

… Even as the most vulnerable have pretty well gotten their COVID-19 shots in Nashville, Temple Church still hasn’t returned to in-person worship services.

Many congregations in Nashville — especially those with predominantly Black members — have taken a more conservative approach to getting back together. And no government regulations are stopping them.

The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Leath is the bishop overseeing African Methodist Episcopal churches in Tennessee and Kentucky. While many have held vaccination events for members, almost all worship — on the bishop’s recommendation — has remained virtual.

… So if A.M.E. congregations want to go back to in-person gatherings, he’s still requiring masks for everyone, no hugs or handshakes, and — critically — no maskless singing.

Relegating unvaccinated members in the balcony — or some other segregating policy — just doesn’t feel right to most church leaders. But some are willing to draw a distinction between the vaxxed and the unvaxxed.

… At Acklen Avenue Church of Christ in Nashville, preacher J.P. Conway greets members as they arrive with some instructions.

“If you’re vaccinated and you’d like to take your mask off when we sing, feel free,” he tells them, directing everyone to the church lawn. 

Conway says he never wanted anyone to feel too much pressure. But people started volunteering that they’d gotten the shot. So he began giving weekly updates in Sunday school on Zoom and then from the pulpit — like a church might do with the weekly offering.

“We were basically telling people what percentage of our church had been vaccinated every week,” he says. “So that was an indirect way of saying, ‘we think you should all do this.'”

Read more at … https://www.npr.org/2021/05/16/996858744/houses-of-worship-grapple-with-the-vaxxed-and-unvaxxed-divide?

If you would like to discover best practices for Growing the Post-pandemic Church check out the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Growing-Post-pandemic-Church-Leadership-church-Guides/dp/

GROWING THE POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & Some churches experiment with Communion options

by David Paulson, 12/18/20.

…On Sunday evenings during Advent, the Rev. Ian Burch, St. Mark’s rector, consecrates take-home Communion kits during a brief service of Holy Eucharist, celebrated with just a few church volunteers. Then from 4 to 7 p.m., he greets parishioners at the front door and directs them to a path threading around the nave past prayer stations and devotional artworks. Before leaving the church, they stop at the right of the altar where a table is set up to hold the kits.

…Some congregations, after choosing to forego Communion for most of the pandemic due to the public health risks, have begun experimenting with a return to the practice.

… The Rev. David Cox, rector of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Mission, Kansas, a Kansas City suburb, felt parishioners’ longing for Communion after worshipping only online for months this year

…In Kansas, Cox is preparing St. Michael and All Angels for a unique Christmas Eve offering. Parishioners will be invited to park outside the church and tune their radios to the service of Holy Eucharist, which will be broadcast on a personalized frequency using an FM radio transmitter that the church purchased for little more than $100.

After consecrating the Communion bread, Cox will bring it outside and distribute it to worshippers in the parking lot. It may not be ideal, Cox said, but it is as close as his parishioners will get to experiencing a traditional Christmas Eve Eucharist this year.

Read more at … https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2020/12/17/after-pandemic-forced-eucharistic-fasts-some-churches-experiment-with-communion-options/

GROWING THE POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & Some churches experiment with Communion options

by David Paulson, 12/18/20.

…On Sunday evenings during Advent, the Rev. Ian Burch, St. Mark’s rector, consecrates take-home Communion kits during a brief service of Holy Eucharist, celebrated with just a few church volunteers. Then from 4 to 7 p.m., he greets parishioners at the front door and directs them to a path threading around the nave past prayer stations and devotional artworks. Before leaving the church, they stop at the right of the altar where a table is set up to hold the kits.

…Some congregations, after choosing to forego Communion for most of the pandemic due to the public health risks, have begun experimenting with a return to the practice.

… The Rev. David Cox, rector of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Mission, Kansas, a Kansas City suburb, felt parishioners’ longing for Communion after worshipping only online for months this year

…In Kansas, Cox is preparing St. Michael and All Angels for a unique Christmas Eve offering. Parishioners will be invited to park outside the church and tune their radios to the service of Holy Eucharist, which will be broadcast on a personalized frequency using an FM radio transmitter that the church purchased for little more than $100.

After consecrating the Communion bread, Cox will bring it outside and distribute it to worshippers in the parking lot. It may not be ideal, Cox said, but it is as close as his parishioners will get to experiencing a traditional Christmas Eve Eucharist this year.

Read more at … https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2020/12/17/after-pandemic-forced-eucharistic-fasts-some-churches-experiment-with-communion-options/

GIVING & Pandemic making people more generous.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: having worked behind the scenes with church leaders for over 30 years, I have a hunch that some churches’ desire to stay open or to reopen too early is based upon a loss of giving because of the lack of face-to-face (or face-to-plate) services.

However secular organizations that track charitable giving have found that people are increasing their charitable giving in response to the pandemic. Read this well researched article below.

Is the pandemic making people more generous — or more selfish?

The data on how people are giving in 2020 may surprise you. By Sigal Samuel, Vox, 12/4/20.

While you’d expect high-net-worth donors to give more during a crisis, you wouldn’t necessarily expect similar behavior from average people hurting from an economic downturn. Yet 56 percent of US households gave to charity or volunteered in response to the pandemic, and the first half of 2020 saw a 12.6 percent increase in the number of new donors to charity compared to one year ago. 

The causes that are faring especially well are the ones with an obvious connection to the pandemic, like hunger relief and health care. According to a Harris Poll survey conducted for Fast Company, “hunger relief has seen the most charitable giving — 34 percent, among those who have given to charity during the pandemic — followed by religious organizations (31 percent) and health and medical organizations (29 percent).”

Read more at … https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/21754625/covid-19-pandemic-generosity-charity-cash-transfers