Hope Central Church of Jamaica Plain

Hope Central Church of Jamaica Plain

Photo Snapshot of 2020 at Hope Central Church of Jamaica Plain

Written Interview with Rev. Laura Ruth Jarrett

Over the last 18 months or so, our nation has faced two pandemics—the health pandemic of COVID 19 and the pandemic of continuous Racial Injustice.   As you think about these two pandemics,  

How did the two pandemics impact your mission and ministry activities? 

  • We had to ask ourselves the question, "how can we all thrive together?"  
  • We developed 4 separate budgets within the church to address that we had identified as important. We had separate budgets for operating funds, reparations, COVID-19, and a flower fund for people in the hospital. 
  • We explored reparations with BU University but in 2020 White Supremacy had already begun to unravel. During the COVID pandemic, families of color were the first to be hit by COVID-19. We explored race and economic factors and looked at differences in equity. We started work to offer reparations to those who have ancestors who were slaves.  Questions emerged about how we could discern who should receive funds. 
  • Children immediately disappeared. 
  • COVID-19 Fund:  Established a shared fund to distribute.  Given away $8,000 in Grants. 

How did your church continue to be engaged in innovative, creative and unfamiliar ways during the COVID-19 shutdowns? 

  • During 2020, everything changed. We were called to question how we worship, how we care, how we connect, and how we live in a world where white supremacy asks us to be certain and safe when certain and safe are never our reality.  
  • We used our remote service to tell stories, including "Story Slams" on Zoom. 
  • We offered Sunday School on Zoom. We had a lot attending at the beginning of the Pandemic. Once people got used to it, attendance fell off. 
  • Mantra:  We don’t know who we are, and we don’t know what we are doing. 
  • Because of Zoom, we’ve gained people across the country. 

What were the low points, failures, or frustrations? 

  • There were all kinds of trauma, and the pandemic triggered old traumas as well.  Everyone experienced a degree of “languishing.” Many were stuck worrying and depressed. 
  • Just when we thought the plague was lifting, the Delta variant arrived and we were crushed. 

What were the high points and successes? 

  • COVID-19 Relief Fund elevated spirits
  • Our work with Reparations felt real. It was something clear, substantive, and meaningful.  
  • Musicians joined us and created out of the Center of Their Souls. 
  • Our Moderators have made wise decisions, asking for wisdom and turning it around for the worship life together. 
  • Our relationship with Gay/Lesbian/Black Culture During Trump presidency.  
  • Receiving $50,000 Grant helped us to do important work.  

What lessons, learnings, or changes will your congregation carry into the future? 

  • We have continued to appreciate that the only thing sacred is God, and our practices are to feed that faith. 
  • We are continuing to offer meetings on zoom. 
  • We have learned that the work of reparations IS possible 
  • We have come to understand that Inclusion and Equity are not the same thing. 
  • We have learned that people can participate without being together in person 
  • “We’re falling back into our faith.”  Doing it across a whole lot of difference. 

Interview with Laura Ruth Jarrett

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