What will the post-COVID church look like?
On Saturday, 7 November, North Ryde Community Uniting Church will host a panel discussion about what the church will look like after COVID-19.
The panel features a packed lineup of speakers. It includes Berowra Uniting Church minister Rev. Amanda Hay, President-Elect Rev. Sharon Hollis, Uniting Church New Growth Minister in the Central Coast Rev. Liam Miller, Pulse’s Pastor Steve Molkentin, and Pastor Richard La’Brooy.
The discussion will be part of the church’s monthly Saturday night church service and will stream online via the North Ryde Community Uniting Church Facebook page and on Zoom.
Mr La’Brooy is the Chaplain at Newington College. He told Insights that the panel idea came out of what the church has already been exploring during the pandemic.
“Over the last few months in our monthly Evening Service we’ve been reflecting on the stories of the Babylonian Exile and how that might speak into our current context of a ‘COVID Exile’,” he said.
“We’ve explored the themes of what it means to live and prosper during these times and how God finds life even in the seemingly desolate (Valley of Dry Bones).”
“As life begins to go back to normal or at least ‘COVID normal’ we thought I’d be good to think about what the world, and in particular what the Church, will look like post-COVID; what are the lessons we have learned during this time and what do we hope the Church of the future might look like.”
The panel features a packed line-up, which Mr La’Brooy attributes in part to “doing Church online through Zoom and Facebook” and “how much easier it is to engage and interact with people and to have visiting ministers.”
“It’s now so easy to have someone from another state (or even country) involved in your service because of the connectivity of Zoom. It means that we can have different voices and perspectives involved in a service so easily because we’re not constrained by geography,” he said.
“We did a similar panel discussion a few months back (when we were all in lockdown) and it worked really well and so thought this would be a great opportunity to do it again. It’s an important topic as we look to the future so we wanted to get different perspectives.
“Plus, I think during this COVID time we’ve all become more willing to share and support other people’s ministry and we’re not so contained by ‘our patch’. So it wasn’t difficult to get the line-up, everyone was really willing and excited to be involved.”
How the church emerges from COVID-19 is something Mr La’Brooy said that must be, “[A] conversation that we must have across the Church as a whole.”
“We have learnt and been challenged over the last few months and we have changed as a Church drastically,” he said.
“It has been difficult and painful but it has also created some amazing new ideas and ways of doing ministry. Across the Uniting Church, we need to ask ourselves how we might be changed for the better because of all of this. It’d be too easy to go back to the way things were before COVID.”
“Hopefully this might spark a wider conversation about what we have learnt over the last few months and challenge us to think about what can be as a Church in a post-COVID world.”