God is doing a new thing: Connections during COVID-19


We talk in circles about how the church is a place for connecting, a place for people to find community. And while I believe that and have built my call around creating safe spaces for relationships to develop and community to be built, during the pandemic I learned that we only knew what relationship and communal connections looked like on the surface.

As the pandemic began, we rushed to move things online, to find ways to worship, to find creative ways to close out Lent and celebrate Easter. And as those dates passed and the calendar marched forward, we began to think critically about ways to do graduation celebrations, ways to update confirmation activities and how to celebrate baptisms and communion.

And while it was fun and exciting at first to see people of my computer screen, it also became draining. We are over a year into the pandemic, and Zoom fatigue is real. But there is still something holy taking place in the fatigue. There are still new members logging on to join worship. There are young adult book studies that came to life online, that might not ever have become a thing without the pandemic. There are still baptisms being celebrated.

For me, one of the best things to come from the pandemic is the deepening relationships I have with my church circle. Before the pandemic, we would always meet monthly for dinner and fellowship. So when the pandemic started, we decided that we would find ways to stay connected, but our traditional gatherings were going to change.

And while the number rose, things shut down and life seemed to come to a halt, we still needed one another to keep our sanity. We found ourselves reaching out to one another, realizing how much we needed to be connected and needed each other in order to make it through this unknown phase of life.

The first time we gathered, we met on the porch of the church. We all brought chairs, our own snacks and wore masks. We kept a safe distance, but that didn’t keep up from laughing, form sharing our pandemic reading lists, from commiserating about forced home schooling and so much more. And that night our souls were fed. Our relationships deepened as we leaned on one another as we learned tips and tricks to help survive the pandemic.

As the summer progressed, we continued to meet monthly at the porch. We would check in with one another on our mental health and overall morale. There were some nights that were heavier than others —like when we mourned the loss of church members. But there were also the joyous celebrations of quarantine baby births and milestone modified birthdays for our kids. There were nights when we laughed as we talked about how our parents were coping with the pandemic and all the silly quirks they picked up throughout the pandemic. There were nights of frustration when we were seeing record number of cases, and when our state began to open when things were clearly not ready to do so. And there were nights of comfort as we shared how holiday plans and meals would change to be safe for our families.

Throughout it all, I could see the connections being built. I could sense the deepening of relationships. We were friends and connected before the pandemic, but something about having the space and time to grieve, laugh, plan, share and just be together throughout this time allowed us to move into a more personal, deeper relationship with those in our circle.

As the country opens and move on and tries to bring things back to “normal,” I am forever grateful for these women. They have been a safe and welcoming space during a challenging year. They have all come as they are and so have I, and we have grown more throughout our relationship.

I am not sure what will become of this group as life moves on. I know at some point we will resume child sporting events, dance classes and more. Maybe one day we will share a meal again in a restaurant, but my hope for this group is that we are able to maintain this deep level of relationship, that we are able to connect and be with one another on this new level of connection, for it has been a true gift given to us from a pandemic that has taken all too much.