On October 5, 2022, churches from across the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ gathered at Edwards House in Framingham, MA to view the premiere showing of the long-anticipated Resiliency Time Capsule Documentary.
Funded by a 2021 Louisville Institute Pastoral Study Project Grant, the Resiliency Time Capsule Project was a collaborative cross-conference project that sought to capture the stories of churches during the dual pandemics of 2020 -COVID-19 and Racial Injustice. Twenty-four churches participated throughout the course of the project, contributing pictures, videos, written reflections, and video interviews to demonstrate the specific challenges, innovations, and growth each experienced throughout the pandemic.
In describing the project, Rev. Dr. Audrey Price said, “Future generations will look back in wonder and study how the church journeyed through these pandemics and in some ways thrived. It is important to capture and chronicle now the church’s witness. In capturing the witness, we explore how the church interpreted and responded to the still speaking God in this generation.”
The documentary premiere event in October was a culmination of this work. The resulting nearly 60-minute documentary weaves the stories of featured churches throughout Southern New England and explores the themes of a faithful response to the challenge to ministry, creative innovations, and the essential work of racial injustice within these congregations. It provides a digital snapshot of one of the most challenging eras in our then, newly forming conference’s history. Attendees included SNEUCC staff and church leaders from throughout the conference.
The Rev. Vicki Kemper, pastor of First Church Amherst in Amherst, Mass., was both inspired and encouraged by the project. "We're all aware of what we and our churches have lost because of the pandemic," she said, "but the Time Capsule documentary reveals God's faithfulness as expressed in the resiliency, creativity, and justice commitments of our congregation. It's wonderful to learn about all the new ministries, relationships and ways of being church that the pandemic has birthed."
After sharing a meal and fellowship with one another and a showing of the documentary, participants gathered in small groups to engage in discussions about how they have continued to deepen or further implement the changes or adaptations from the pandemic, how they are navigating an anticipated movement from the pandemic to endemic, and the wisdom they would share with future church leaders during times of uncertainty.
Karen Ziel, Assistant Director of The Center for Transformational Leadership, and co-host of the event with Ms. Elisa Wilson, Program Support Associate for the Center said of these discussions, “As the documentary played, it was wonderful to see those gathered turn their attention to the testimonies of these churches and the work of their peers. Smiles and gestures of affirmation could be seen around the room as words of hope, wisdom, faithful accommodations, and continued care and compassion were offered onscreen in the witness of both clergy and lay leaders from participating churches.”
Rev. Darrell Goodwin reflected, "The resiliency project affirmed the strength, dedication, and conviction of the United Church of Christ in southern New England. I was personally humbled, inspired, and honored to serve the congregations of this region and proud to share their stories of faithfulness across our denomination. The resiliency project is a must-see testimony of how we have and will continue to move through these troubled times."
Visit the Time Capsule website today to learn more about the journeys and innovations of churches in our conference during the 2020 pandemic.