Recently I’ve been struggling to figure out just how to move forward in our current pandemic. I’ve had discussions with colleagues around how to be creative and to see this very unplanned interruption in our “normal” ways of being as an opportunity to learn new skills and stretch our ministry in new ways. This is all true and necessary, but I don’t want us to get to a place where we believe that what we are doing now is the “new normal.” There is nothing normal about a worldwide pandemic. I don’t want us to think that things will be like this forever. There will be lasting changes that result from this collective experience that we are all going through, and my hope is that those changes will be for the betterment of all of us. But I also have faith that in time, once it is safe, we will be able to gather together again. If there is one thing that has become absolutely clear to me over the last several months, it is how much we need one another.
The loss of community engagement has been painful. I use the term “community engagement” to refer to any community that we are part of—large family gatherings, friend groups, work and volunteer opportunities, festivals, concerts, camps, music, theatre, sporting events, and—of course—church. I miss you all more than I can say! And yet I firmly believe that our present distance from one another is the best way that we can embody Jesus’s call for us to love our neighbor. We demonstrate our love for each other by doing what needs to be done to keep each other safe, even as we grieve our separation from one another.
As we move through the remaining months of summer and into the fall, please know that the clergy, staff, and vestry of St. Peter’s are working hard to maintain our church community even though we are apart. This is more difficult to do virtually than in person, but we do what we can in the present, and we do it with an eye toward the future. 2020 will be a defining period in all of our lives. And we, the congregation of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte, N.C., are going through this year together. It is my prayer that our collective struggle with bring us closer together. I pray that we will remain connected and engaged with our church community even while we are apart; we need each other now more than ever. We will get through this, and we will get through it together.
The Reverend Amanda C. Stephenson, Associate Rector