Point in Time: Time Capsule Project
Program Support Associate, Center for Transformational Leadership
In early 2021, the Center for Transformational Leadership (CTL) was given the opportunity to manage the activities related to a grant-funded Time Capsule Project. This project will document and record for perpetuity the experiences, struggles, and growth that churches faced during the 2020 pandemic, with special emphasis placed on church experiences related to COVID and the racial justice wildfire that swept the nation. The project seeks to answer the 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?"
In terms of project outcomes, this project seeks to archive church experiences during the 2020 COVID and racial pandemic by compiling interviews and putting them into a single documentary. As stated in the grant, "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."
To begin this project, Area Conference Ministers (ACMs) identified 30 churches that they felt would be good candidates as contributors to this Time Capsule, of which 24 were subsequently interviewed to provide testimony to their experiences. The responses, which have now been coded into thematic areas, reveal the complex decisions and challenges that were encountered across churches during this pandemic. While clear patterns emerged regarding both the challenges themselves and churches' responses to these challenges, there were also a number of fascinating innovations that arose during this pandemic.
In the next stage of this project, CTL staff will conduct live, follow-up interviews with church leadership and members to capture the "faces" behind the COVID era. Using these videos, as well as narrated commentary and pictures, the CTL will develop a documentary video that will be disseminated throughout the conference. This video will serve as both a memorial to this challenging time and as an inspiration for future church leaders who may experience times of uncertainty or rapid change.
We at the CTL look forward to bringing the SNEUCC this valuable documentary in the early summer and we are excited to move forward with the next stage of this exciting project to bring our SNEUCC church voices to life.