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By Madeline Pillow White

A Forum on In-Person Worship was held Thursday, December 3 at 7 p.m. on a Zoom webinar. The recording of the event can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/487300411.

The forum was an opportunity for four pastors to share their experiences of worship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their stories and advice focused on adaptability, finding support if you are clergy, dealing with anger and grief, and hidden blessings and connection during the pandemic.

The four pastors were:

The Rev. Beth Anderson, Courthouse Community UMC, Virginia Beach

The Rev. Walter “B” Failes, Thrasher Memorial UMC, Vinton

The Rev. Seungsoo “RJ” Jun, Raleigh Court UMC, Roanoke

The Rev. Chris McLain, Shady Grove UMC, Short Pump

The Rev. Beth Anderson shared about the variety of ways her church has worshipped and been together from in-person worships to drive-in services for Communion to virtual time for prayer during the week.

The Rev. B. Failes reflected on how hard it was to make the decision to move back to virtual worship after holding in-person worship since May.

He also emphasized the importance of clergy having someone to talk with about the struggles they face during the pandemic whether it is a clergy colleague or a spiritual adviser.

Raleigh Court UMC also made the move back from in-person worship to virtual worship. The Rev. Seungsoo “RJ” Jun shared that as part of this all the families in the church are being encouraged to consecrate a space in their home for when they watch the service. His church purchased a candle lantern for all the families in the church for them to be connected and shared ideas of what else could be in this “faith corner.” Families in the church have been sharing pictures on social media of what their faith corners look like.

The Rev. Chris McLain shared that family members, teachers and youth in the congregation were the ones who helped other members get online and the church saw their online worship grow because of this help. McLain shared that other churches should see if they have members who have these skills and can assist other church members online.

There was also a short Q& A period after each of the pastors shared from each of their contexts.

Bishop Lewis emphasized that churches should do what is right for their context whether they can hold in-person worship, conduct virtual worship or telephonic worship.

Also in attendance were Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, Chancellor Steve Brown, Eastern Shore District Superintendent Alex Joyner, Communications Consultant Paul Steidler, and Conference Director of Communications Madeline Pillow White.

-Madeline Pillow White is the conference director of Communications.