When Becki sent out her reminder last month about this upcoming newsletter, I originally envisioned that it would be full of information about the Medical Debt Forgiveness project and Installation Weekend. I was excited to convey to all of you how thrilled I was for the month of April. I heard from so many of you telling me how thrilled you were right now. We were all looking forward to “a new chapter…together” as the theme for this year’s canvas declared.
I don’t think any of us imagined just how much our lives were about to change.
Indeed, the necessary but difficult responses so many places in our daily lives, including AUUF, have taken to try to curb the spread of COVID-19 have thrust us, kicking and screaming, into a new normal of social distancing for the time being. Some of us are learning to do things from a distance, and others are suffering from lay-offs and a system that has no recourse for people who find themselves out of work at times like this.
Yet, in the midst of it, I see so many encouraging signs of people coming together to make sure the communities they are a part of are taken care of. Our Congregational Support Committee geared up quickly to make sure the most vulnerable members of our community receive check-ins on a regular basis. Our technology guru, Darrell, very quickly helped us find ways to do virtual Sunday services despite his incredibly busy schedule at the university right now. And, all around our community, I’m hearing ideas to stay in touch, including virtual small groups, weekly online events, Zoom check-ins, and even a new AUUF Discord server!
From where I sit, we are, understandably, fearful and anxious about what the future will bring, but we are coming together in the midst of it, creating community in ways that scarcely seemed possible just a few weeks ago.
And I’m learning that there have always been people who needed these options we are now providing: former members who have moved away but still miss us, newcomers in the community who want to check us out, busy working folks who find it difficult to make it in for physical meetings, and shut-ins with no other way to connect, among others. That is where the scared is right now for me: in the fact that people are finding our community in this time that seems so discombobulating for so many of us.
That’s what’s beautiful about AUUF: we are living into our canvass theme in ways none of us would have thought we could. It is a new chapter…together, and I have no doubt we are in it for the long haul, renewing our covenant with each other in whatever way the times demand. Times like this are what community is about, testing our resolve to be together and support one another. I have no doubt in my mind that the amazing and wonderful folks of this congregation will come out, on the other side, stronger than ever!
Rev. Chris Rothbauer, AUUF Minister