About a month ago, all the clergy of the diocese gathered (on Zoom, of course) and, together, we pondered the question of where God might be calling us next. As we slowly move out of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions (was I the only one who felt strange having a cup of coffee after church again?), we would be remiss if we didn’t stop and prayerfully reflect on what God is now calling and needing the church to be.
Below is a selection of the gathered responses to this query from the priests and deacons who lead your communities:
- Regather and reconnect.
- How do we address the social divisions that have become painfully obvious of over the past month?
- Reform of the church — rethink technology and rethink what it means to belong.
- Take time to lament and be reflective — what have we learned in this season of wilderness and what do we bring forward?
- COVID-19 has given us an opportunity to reimagine what the church can be.
- Rest and reconnect.
- People are hungry for relationships that are deep and authentic.
- Renew our hope in the family of God.
- The necessity of collaboration between parishes in regions to use the gifts present and share resources; new birth and a reimagining of what God is calling us to; listening — deeply listening — and examining the structures in place.
- Develop hybrid services, or continue these, so people have that option.
- Listening. Lamentation. Healing. Surrender.
- Issues of social justice to rally around.
- Is God inviting us to let go in order to experience a new thing the Holy Spirit is bringing towards birth?
- We are in a liminal space, and the spirit works powerfully in liminal spaces.
- Rediscover hope.
I hope that in the weeks and months to come, this conversation of what God is calling us to next can continue, and not just with the clergy, but with the whole diocese. The pandemic has changed the church and the world, and we cannot just continue as we were before as if nothing happened. The cracks and fault lines in our communities, our country and the world have become ever more evident. The world needs to be stitched back together into communities of love, trust, safety, justice and equity.
However, we, as Anglicans and communities gathered around a scripture that models persistence and resilience in the face of trial, carry deep wisdom and practices within our tradition that we are being called to share with the world. We innately understand how to love our neighbours, the value of service and sacrifice, the ritual power of fasting and almsgiving and the shared benevolence found in prayer and thanksgiving.
We have much to offer our fragile and broken world, and Easter will soon be here. Let us reconnect so that we can, truly, be resurrected — and let us reach out, gently inviting neighbours and strangers to break bread and join us in song and sacrament.