I received a call recently from a man whose name sounded vaguely familiar. Maybe  “familiar” implies too strong a connection, even preceded by “vaguely.” I certainly couldn’t put a face to the name although he told me he had been to CVUUS a couple of times “over the years.” Church of any sort wasn’t his thing, he assured me, when I suggested he would be welcome to drop in on us more often – online for now, of course.

He told me he was calling for advice on what do do with money that he had received from the Government as a Corona-virus payment. “I don’t need it and I want to donate to some group supporting local farm-workers,” he said. “I trust CVUUS to know where it should go because I have seen all the good things you do.”

What a nice thing to hear! It did leave me wondering, though, how our reputation is going to be shaped as the pandemic unfolds. I’m guessing many CVUUS activities that attracted this gentleman’s attention won’t happen as publicly as they did in the past, if they happen at all. We certainly won’t be hosting or sponsoring open social justice, arts, or spiritual programs in our Sanctuary for the foreseeable future.

My prayer is that we will one day look back on this as a blessing. Our congregation likes to sink its teeth into big challenges. The most recent, of course, was our capital campaign to build our Ann Ross Fellowship Hall and Kitchen. But now we have a bigger challenge than any of us imagined: creating a new form of 21st Century congregation on the fly in the midst of social distancing, economic recession and political chaos. We must learn to serve the elderly, children, and everyone in between equally well online and, through small group ministry, in the flesh. The large Sunday morning service where we are all invited to come together physically in our Sanctuary will become another vital way of fulfilling our mission when it returns, but not necessarily the driving force it has been historically in shaping our identity.

I believe we are called by this pandemic to, as one of our hymns puts it, revere the past when appropriate but “trust the dawning future more.” That same hymn urges us to “go forward in the power of love.” May it be so…. Rev. Barnaby