From the Rector – August 6, 2020
Fall Formation Plans
Normally at this time of year I’d be shopping for school supplies. This year, I am not sure what to do! Many parents, teachers, and students are unsure about what the fall will look like. Although our local schools are hoping to open in “hybrid” mode, with alternating weeks of in-person and at-home virtual learning, even that looks like it’s up in the air right now. Massachusetts infection numbers are unfortunately ticking upward again and school plans are changing by the day.
In the midst of that, what about formation and learning at Redeemer this fall? Normally we have a strong formation program for all ages that is one of the hallmarks of our faith community. This fall, we want to make sure we continue that and there is a lot of planning in the works.
Please be part of the conversation, join in upcoming meetings, and let us know your thoughts. Based on your feedback from the Regathering Team survey, we are planning to have online offerings for all ages. Most people said they’d prefer not to return to in-person church in the near future. In addition, the Bishop’s guidelines say that we can’t offer formation to children until Massachusetts is in Stage 4 (which means a vaccine must be available). So in-person Atrium is not an option for us this fall. If we are able to return to church this fall, we can also try a “hybrid” mode using our A/V system to have some people in the Great Hall and others participating from home via Zoom.
Formation is probably the trickiest for our youngest parishioners, those who are part of the Atrium program. With so much of school online, sitting still for yet another Zoom class may not be what they or their parents want. Rev. Andrew and I will be reaching out to Atrium parents this month to get their thoughts on what might best meet family needs. Ideas include
- a “church in a box” that we could mail to people’s homes with Bible activities, crafts, and discussion questions for families;
- potentially having a “lending library” of Atrium materials that could be delivered to homes;
- having online children’s worship or stories that could be pre-recorded and watched on-demand or parallel to the Sunday service;
- or other ideas that parents and catechists come up with.
We hope parents will be part of upcoming meetings to share their thoughts about what will work best for their family.
Youth formation is something that went fairly well this spring and we plan to continue weekly Rite 13, J2A, and Youth Group meetings online. Many thanks to our youth leaders for making the pivot to online meetings! The youth group had a lot of fun playing games together in Zoom and just hanging out. Of course we’ll continue to fine-tune and improve, but for now the plan is for youth programs to continue online. If we are able to have a few socially distanced in-person meetings this fall, that will be an extra bonus. We’ll look out for those opportunities when the Regathering Team is able to give us the green light.
Education for Ministry is a cornerstone of our formation programming for adults. Many thanks to leaders Mary Ucci, Denis Jenssen, Connie Parrish, and Cathy Burns for their leadership of EfM. They did a fabulous job keeping the classes going via Zoom in the spring and we hope to start a new EfM year in the fall. The mentors will decide on what combination of Zoom or in-person meetings are possible in keeping with the guidelines of our Regathering Team. It’s not too late to sign up for EfM if you are interested!
Lastly, we will offer adult formation about twice a month during our current “coffee hour” time of 10:30am on Sundays. Virtual Coffee Hour has been wonderful, but many have expressed that just checking in each week is getting a little old. We’ll continue to have Virtual Coffee Hour once a month or so, but alternate it with adult formation discussions on current events and spiritual topics, some with outside speakers and others led by our clergy or parish members. These will all be held on Zoom. We can also record them for watching on demand.
With no need to worry about how far away our guests are, we hope to Zoom in many interesting and informative speakers. Current ideas include inviting Byron Rushing to teach us about the history of Black Lives Matter, speakers from Bethany House of Prayer on labyrinths and the spirituality of writing poetry, and perhaps a visit from Dr. Deirde Good to help us get ready for the Year of the Gospel of Mark coming up. If you have an idea for an adult forum topic, please let Rev. Kate know!
If, at some point, we are able to return to in-person church this fall, we will utilize the screens and technology in the Great Hall so that people can participate in adult forum both from home and at the church.
All of these ideas are just in the planning stages. I’d love your feedback and ideas. Please let me know what you think and prepare for an informative and uplifting formation program this fall.