Price Brings Grant Project to SNEUCC

Price Brings Grant Project to SNEUCC

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When the Rev. Dr. Audrey Price came on to the staff of the Southern New England Conference Jan. 1, she brought more than her talent and expertise with her:  she also brought along a $15,000 Louisville Institute grant to fund a project looking at how churches are creatively surviving and thriving in the pandemic.

The project, entitled "Navigating Pandemics, Chronicling the Witness" will ask the core question: How did this generation of Southern New England Conference churches make the faith their own during the pandemics of systemic racism and COVID-19?  

Moreover, the project will build on the "God is still speaking" campaign of the UCC to explore how folks perceive divine initiative and ask how God is still speaking during these extraordinary times.

In her narrative proposing the project, Dr. Price writes:

"On 13 March 2020, the United States of America entered a national emergency due to the 2019 outbreak of the coronavirus, 'COVID-19.' Since then, the nation has been suffering under two deadly pandemics—COVID-19 and systemic racial injustice. Consequently, the universal church was thrust abruptly into wrestling with, “How to Be the Church” during pandemics. This entailed how to gather for worship, spiritual formation programs, youth group and other communal forum in person. In the midst of racial unrest exacerbated by the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd in the span of two weeks, the church wrestled with how to attack systemic injustice and racism while standing in solidarity with the most vulnerable. As churches faithfully endeavored to give witness to a liberative gospel and serve its communities, they were forced to respond and be church in innovative, creative and unfamiliar ways."

"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. In doing so, future generations will reflect upon this historic period and see how the church made the faith its own. Just as churches looked back at how we survived other historical periods—civil war, revolutionary war, etc—as a means to inform their decision making during this time, so will future generations look back at this historical period," she wrote.
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Working with the Conference's Communication Team and the Innovation and Adaptive Leadership team, Dr. Price plans to gather information via online information sheets, requests for multi-media presentations of ministry events and programs, collection of artifacts (i.e. ministry kits assembled and delivered to congregants during state stay-at-orders), interviews of pastors, church leaders and selected congregants and ministry partners/organizations and collect media from virtual worship and church programs.

The end result of the project will be a  “time capsule” and presentation that creatively captures and tells the story. The “time capsule” will be a collective work product consisting of a multi-media presentation, written chronicle, and “museum” display of artifacts. The idea is to tell the story through a variety of media being faithful to the myriad and diverse ways we were creatively church during the pandemics.

Dr. Price said that as a Conference executive with access to over 600 churches, who holds a doctorate in systematic theology and certification as a UCC History, Doctrine and Polity teacher, she is uniquely qualified to take on this project. 

Work will begin this spring, with the intention of having a time capsule and findings ready to share with the Conference Annual Meeting in 2022 and the national General Synod after that.

"I hope this project will encourage churches to explore transformative and creative ministry that is relevant and more agile in meeting contemporary and social needs of its social location and community context," Dr. Price said. "I hope this project will equip churches to embrace how these pandemics have challenged and changed them, and yet they have created new ministry space, new ministry programs and expanded their community of faith. I hope that churches will continue on this new path of ministry rather than focusing on 'when can we go back to normal.'"

This project is being supported by the Louisville Institute, which is funded by the Religion Division of Lilly Endowment and based at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary (Louisville, Kentucky). The Institute's fundamental mission is to enrich the religious life of North American Christians and to encourage the revitalization of their institutions, by bringing together those who lead religious institutions with those who study them, so that the work of each might inform and strengthen the other.

Author

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Tiffany Vail

Tiffany is the Director of Media and Communications for the Southern New England Conference. 

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