I am in conversations with several other pastors in Hudson River Presbytery about creating a system to share adult education and other ministries via Zoom. The idea is that we would ask congregations to let us know what they plan to offer in the upcoming season of the church year. Courses, groups, classes, and even special services will be compiled and organized onto a website page, along with contact information. We would then send seasonal updates to participating congregations about what is available to share.
As we talked this idea through, we thought about the adult education offerings that a few people in are congregations have interest in, but only a few. Such groups could then be offered across the Presbytery and get a critical mass of people in attendance. Pastors and other congregational leaders could be freed up to pursue particular areas of interest and expertise. Groups of pastors could get together and collaborate to make a larger, more labor intensive offering more feasible. Smaller congregations that struggle to assemble a group of youth for a Confirmation Class, would be able to band together. We could team up to offer grief groups and other groups of support, as needs could be met across congregations. Even special services, such as “Blue Christmas,” could be made accessible via Zoom. The possibilities seem endless. Extending our ministries while also lightening the load.
In addition to these opportunities, we could also strengthen relationships across the Presbytery, with experiences of growing and sharing together. More people within our congregations will have tangible experience of a connectional church. In a time when every congregation is constantly needing to adapt to cultural change, a shared book group also becomes an opportunity for ideas to be shared. “The way we always do things” will come to have more “ways” added as each congregation shares what they know. Even better, collaboration will give birth to new ideas.
I am looking forward to seeing the HRP Course Catalog (name in progress) form and grow. This is an idea that likely would never have come about had it not been for the peculiar context of COVID-19. What other ideas for ministry can we imagine resulting from this time?