Pacing Ourselves in a Pandemic

Photo of a stone bench with moss and lichen growing on it, in a peaceful garden.]

My dear colleagues in ministry, lay and ordained,

I want to ask you all to work less right now. I mean it. We have a long and difficult road ahead.

Some learnings from Seattle, where our situation gets more intense each day:

  • Just when you figure out how to do worship live from your sanctuary, with a skeleton crew, it will be time to shift to doing worship from your home.
  • Just when you figure out how to do so many things to replicate "church" as we know it on line, you will realize that what your people need most of all is straight up pastoral care, and time to connect with one another. Not programming. And definitely not perfection.
  • Just as you figure out how to minister during a pandemic, the ground shifts and you have to find a new center.

I'm realizing quickly that our people don't need us to deliver the things we used to deliver every week. They need small group ministry and pastoral care—but the simplest of these things. They don't need curricula—they need to see each other's faces. They don't need polished preaching and music—they need to hear that they are not alone.

The most important thing we can do right now is tend to our own spiritual health and get enough rest. This is going to be a long haul, and there is much loss and grieving to come in most of our communities.

Do less in order to do what will be necessary all too soon.

I believe we need to slow way down, because if we are already exhausted we will have no reserves when the worst of this pandemic arrives and we start having deaths in our own congregations.

Please take good care of yourselves right now. We will need all our reserves in the weeks and months ahead.

About the Author

Cecilia Kingman

Rev. Cecilia Kingman is the Minister for Faith and Justice at the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Edmonds, WA. She lives in Seattle with her partner Alan and their two youngest children, a pair of twins. They have three young adult children spread around the globe....

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