How is God at work in Willoughby and Northbridge?
This year has seen many changes to what is involved in ministering to a congregation, but through these changes God has been moving and working at Willoughby and Northbridge Uniting church.
While we would not wish the devastation of COVID-19 on anyone the restrictions it has brought challenged us to really strip back everything we were doing as a church and refocus on what is most important to us. We were able to really celebrate our congregation’s strength in pastoral care. Many members found the need to reach out to the church community just to connect with people outside of their home bubble.
Through being pushed into a new digital and hybrid space, we have been able to connect with families overseas who were feeling alone and isolated. We were able to connect with people who had moved away or who were moving into alternative living arrangements that would keep them from attending church. One of the biggest blessings has been people having their names under their faces on Zoom.
Our congregation only officially amalgamated two weeks before lockdown, and having people’s names displayed allowed our congregation to become true community much quicker than it might have without lockdown. Lockdown streamlined some of the processes that enable ministry with online offerings and Email newsletters and it brought us together as we glimpsed into each other’s houses.
Praise the Lord that we can now attend meetings via Zoom. Late night meetings where I can be at home in slippers have been an absolute God send. I was recently in a presbytery meeting where we were given State of Origen updates by members who were sent out as we voted. Now if that isn’t a sign of God at work in the church then perhaps the fact the NSW won the match is.
We are lucky enough at Willoughby and Northbridge that we have been able to resume meeting in person on both sites as we have enough space and dedicated people who will ensure COVID-19 safety protocols are followed. We have seen how much people have appreciated being able to connect in person, have a chat over morning tea and to be able to take communion together was really moving.
We have seen God moving us as a community to see how we can more meaningfully connect with each other and the community around us. We want to build real relationships of trust and connection, not just relationships of consumer and host. We have noticed what connects us to our faith and community and we are building new leadership roles with in our structure to help us as we continue to journey together.
I want to acknowledge that we are a very lucky congregation who have only been able to do so much at this time because we are in a wealthy area and the people who came before us have set us up well. We are grateful for this and we hope we are able to leave the church in an even better place when we leave.