Now that we are hopefully seeing the latter stages of COVID-19, clergy and laity are faced with a number of issues, questions and challenges. The issues, questions and challenges all have to do with how clergy and laity will respond to what has occurred as a result of COVID-19.
Like all of the other districts in the annual conference, clergy in the Rock Hill District are wrestling with how to move forward as the body of Christ.
Dr. Anthony Hodge, superintendent of the Rock Hill District, helped to facilitate a five-month clergy discussion on the possibilities that exist for churches on the district.
The beauty of the five-month discussion was that it was led by a team of clergy who volunteered to tackle the concept of moving forward as a post-quarantine church.
In a recent clergy gathering, Hodge along with other clergy extended words of thanks to the presenters who shared their insights on how the church could conceivably move forward.
Presenters were Michael Jarrell, “The Post-Quarantine Church,” February; Mallory Forte Nickerson, “Breaking Free from Institutions,” March; Joel McMakin, “A New Discipleship Process,” April; and Becky Shirley and Dishawn Muldrow, “Practical Models for the New Church,” May.
In a slide presentation developed by Shirley and Muldrow, reference was made to Tom Rainer’s book, “The Post Quarantine Church.” In that book, Rainer points out, “If church leaders and members don’t take this opportunity to rethink everything they’ve been doing, it will indeed be an opportunity wasted. God may be waiting for YOU to write a new story for your church on the blank slate God has provided.”
Phrased differently, what thing or things did we learn as we encountered the pandemic that can help us build stronger ministries going forward?
As we approach a new conference year, clergy on the Rock Hill District were asked to prayerfully consider how they would utilize what they had been exposed to in those clergy gatherings.
They were reminded in the last presentation, facilitated by Shirley and Muldrow, that, “This journey into a new normal will take courage. In past times of paradigm shifts, the saints who have gone before us could have thrown in the towel, but they didn’t. They imagined a church in the future for people they’d never met. Let’s be those kinds of saints!”
The rhetorical question, what do we do after COVID-19, was posed.
As Hodge noted, most are aware that churches are encountering some differences in worship attendance since COVID. Some persons are reluctant to resume in-person worship at this time. Some churches have been impacted financially because of the pandemic.
For any pastor or congregation encountering persons reluctant to return to in-person worship, Hodge said, remember that God blessed us with alternatives to provide worship for everyone. Rather than abandon, utilize what has worked for many to actually expand worship exposure and opportunities to support your community of faith financially.
“We can as a district and annual conference continue to do several things with God’s help way beyond COVID-19. If God provided for each of us during our COVID-19 experience, surely God can and will provide for us post-COVID-19,” Hodge said.