“O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again. Amen.” —Henri Nouwen

A Word From our Media Arts Director

A Word From our Media Arts Director

As we are forced to close the doors of our church buildings for the foreseeable future because of COVID-19, we are left asking what sort of congregation we are.

We will have to connect with each other online, and our community of care will exceed the bounds of social distancing.

Having to close the doors of our church buildings because of the public health emergency leaves me asking myself: What is a congregation but a community that comes together?

I remembered years ago when I was a young boy, we were hit by the kind of snowstorm that would close the city for a time. Two feet of snow accumulated across the city and almost nothing moved in the chill of the wintry landscape.

On Sunday, I pondered whether we should go to church or not. Then my father reminded me that this church had been worshipping on Sundays for many years before I was born, through storms and war and pestilence and they were not about to stop now.

And they didn’t. However, these are different times. The COVID-19 virus has crippled our city and community beyond what any snowstorm can.

On March 16, with our hearts broken, we closed the buildings of Lakeview United Methodist Church for public worship, classes and gatherings. For the last two years we have been a church that livestreams our faith around the world each Sunday, so we will not miss a beat technically. The difference now and for the near future there will be no congregation physically present in our sanctuary, not even if two hardy souls come knocking on the church doors ready for worship.

This new reality will feel lonely for all of us. We will feel the challenge of being in the connection business and having to transcend physical distance. But we will know that our congregation will be gathering with us online as we hold each other together as a community through the internet. Our community of care will surpass the bounds of social distancing and we will sing, pray and ponder what our world is going through even as we sit in our kitchens at laptops and in our yards on cellphones.

This is for sure a strange time for all of us. Yet we know we are stronger than a temporary virus, and that by staying home we will do our part as stewards of the health and wellness of our community. We know that this should come before our need to see each other in person for now.

We know that when we can’t be together physically, the question is not: Do we cease to be a congregation? But: What kind of congregation are we?

At Lakeview, we will be a virtual church for now, but still a church that connects and cares for our community and each other, just one limited by the technology we can use for the good of us all. We will be spreading the word that we are all in this together. We will be reminding ourselves that humanity has been through difficulties before and has sustained hope through worse than we are experiencing today.

May the Lord be with you throughout these trying times.


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