Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

“Whether we like it or not, this is what the Holy Spirit required of Christ's frightened disciples on the birthday of the Church. Essentially, to stop huddling in their version of sameness and safety. To throw open their windows and doors. To feel the pressure of God's hand against their backs, pour themselves into the streets, and speak. When the Holy Spirit came, silence was no longer possible; they were on fire.” (The Rev. Debie Thomas, Journeys with Jesus, https://www.journeywithjesus.net/essays/2241-the-one-and-the-many)

Pastor's Column June 2022This morning I am remembering the early days of gathering for worship on ZOOM -- how nervous we were about the pandemic, how proud we were that we were using technology to be together, how gracious you all were with me as I learned how to host on zoom, how grateful we all were when Lee took over hosting responsibilities. It didn’t take long before being together online felt normal and we added ZOOM council meetings, happy hour, racial justice book group, theology on tap, Godly-Play, and seasonal mid-week virtual vespers.

As the worst of the pandemic has subsided zoom exhaustion and the ability to meet in person has meant that many of those online gatherings have fallen by the wayside. But not our worship. Our attendance has remained remarkably stable since COVID began and, much to my surprise, the split between those participating in person and those participating online has remained about even. I think many of us assumed that we’d keep “offering” an online option, but that most people would return to in-person worship as soon as possible. But even that language assumes that on-line participation is an “add on” rather than another aspect of the central event. I’d like to rethink that!

The Spirit that lit up the early church on that first Pentecost, is still calling Jesus’ followers to move beyond our safe places. This June a group of us will take our congregation out to the streets at the Pride Parade. On Tuesdays we’ll continue opening our doors and lending our kitchen to cooks from “Feed the Streets,” so that love in the form of nourishing food can go out into the streets. We’ll continue sending resources to Hoyt Street and Clackamas Service Center and we will continue exploring advocacy for racial justice and gun safety.

In addition, at the end of the month, I’ll be taking some time to attend “Digital Ministry: A Virtual Gathering of People Committed to the Future of the Church,” so we can strengthen and expand our use of technology. I would love to have your help preparing for that conference: after two years of ZOOM church, what questions, requests and recommendations do you have? What would enrich your experience? What kinds of gatherings besides Sunday worship do you hope for? What do you hear the Spirit calling us to?

Grateful for all the spaces where we get to be together… online, in our building, and in our community.