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Grace to you and peace! This month is the one-year anniversary of the pandemic and the closing of in-person worship for most of our churches. It is important to pause and recognize the impact that this past year has had on our clergy and our church members.
Local Church pastors have been challenged to learn new technical skills not taught in seminaries. New creativity has been needed in designing worship for online experiences, while providing leadership and pastoral care in new, and often demanding ways. Pastors have worked harder than ever, carrying the concern for church members and communities in their hearts. This has been exhausting. Unfortunately, many pastors have not taken vacation time.
Specialized Ministers- hospital chaplains, pastoral counselors, counselors in educational settings, and others have dealt with the pressures of addressing the mental and spiritual health of patients, clients, family members, and staff often through technology as opposed to in-person care. They have provided daily support for those who have been coping with loss while experiencing loss themselves.
At this Anniversary time, consider sending a note or email of appreciation to our clergy! Continue to keep them in your prayers.
In addition, our churches are filled with First Responders – doctors, nurses, EMTs, and other emergency personnel who have worked tirelessly to keep people alive and hopefully well. This has often been at the sacrifice of their own families in order to keep them safe. We have teachers who have suddenly needed to learn new skills for online education and be creative to keep students engaged and motivated while dealing with the uncertainty of teaching expectations for the weeks ahead.
Parents have had extra burdens with financial stress, keeping children physically and mentally healthy, becoming substitute teachers in subjects that were new to them, while, if they are lucky, attending to their employment. Meanwhile, children and youth have been challenged not only with learning in new ways but missing friends and activities that address emotional and mental needs. In addition, they are aware of the stress of parents. Adults in general, and particularly those who are isolated, have been facing depression and often fear.
Anniversaries, even recognizing tragedies, are important. It has been a difficult year for everyone. We are exhausted, but we have learned a lot! Yet, we know that we have not been alone through the experience. God, the Creator and Source of love, has and will continue to walk with us through these times of both joy and sorrow. So, let us keep moving forward, trusting God, and encouraging each other. You continue in my prayers!