As Christians around the world were preparing their hearts for Holy Week last year, the COVID-19 contagion showed no signs of slowing. Uncertainty about the virus, mandated quarantines, and the strangeness of social distancing and facemasks all added to the isolation we felt during those initial months. Our lives changed drastically.

During this time when many were driven by fear and inclined to panic, the pastoral staff and lay leadership of First Church gathered to pray. Calmly, they sought guidance from the Almighty for the decision-making that would keep our church and community as safe as possible and still remain rooted in God’s Truth.

Week by week, First Church endeavored to find the right balance between separation and re-engagement while honoring everyone’s personal comfort levels. Without being reckless or careless, our leadership attempted to make bold and confident determinations as we waded through the crisis. Decisions throughout the upheaval were never made in haste but after much prayer and thoughtful consideration. We did not forget the triune mission of First Church—to nurture our community, to grow as disciples of Christ, and to be a positive witness in today’s world—and this ongoing mission was reflected in every decision.

Venues for worship, teaching, and fellowship had to be re-evaluated and transformed to be accessible. As circumstances called for a more holistic approach, innovative ways to communicate became the foundation for an indispensable lifeline of spiritual connection.

There is no doubt that, during the initial weeks and months of the pandemic, our congregational care was redefined and expanded. When life dramatically shifted, we yearned for the things long taken for granted. It interrupted everything about our church life. We struggled for balance and for hope. Through all this, First Church was there—just a click away—reminding us of the reason for our hope.

by RJ Flower-Opdycke, Co-editor