North Greenwich Congregational Church

North Greenwich Congregational Church

Narrative Interview with Rev. Karen Halac of North Greenwich Congregational Church

During 2020, 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 they impact your mission and ministry activities?  

  • We are an all-white church in a very white town. We addressed race through consciousness raising, including a Book Group on White Picket Fences. We used our church signboard and Instagram to get messages on race to the community. Folks would stop by and photograph our church sign and we got 204 followers on Instagram. As a church we attended a program on race at Greenwich Public Library. 

  • There were 12 church members. People are at the “end of the end" but I have approached ministry as “church restart.”

  • We shut down in-person services in March of 2020 and switched to Zoom worship. COVID served as an “accidental interim minister” because it forced radical changes.

  • Worship became very intimate. There was a different feeling when members of the congregation were seeing each other’s faces during worship instead of the backs of their heads.

  • We changed pastoral prayer liturgy so each person raised their prayer and prayed it in their own words, ending with “Lord, hear our prayer.” No passing the plate for offering. 

  • There was lots of deferred maintenance on the building. Instead of working through trustees committee, we simply asked people who were willing to take on projects, such as painting the exterior, cleaning up landscaping, etc.  

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

  • We offered a Quarantine Cafe weekly Zoom meeting on Wednesday evenings on a variety of topics: earth day, what is your favorite Scripture, bring a joke, “creativity cafe”, bring something you made. This helped people to connect more personally with one another.  

  • We scheduled church members to do pastoral care for each other: phone check ins, cookie delivery, etc. 

  • We used the church’s commercial kitchen to cook meals for Pivot Ministries in Bridgeport and Pacific House (Stamford).  

  • We gave away 600 children’s books and nursery school furniture left in church from their now closed nursery school. 

  • We gave produce from organic garden on church property to a local food bank. 

  • We donated space in church hall to Neighbor to Neighbor food assistance program. 

  • One neighbor volunteered to fix up the church cemetery. He brought in a mason crew free of charge to reset fallen down headstones. 

  • A church musician did monthly outdoor concerts that drew 30-35 per show. He also brought in his professional musician friends to do concerts. Donations at concerts covered 90% of the costs. 

  • We got ideas for further community engagement at Audubon preserve across from church. 

What were the low points, failures or frustrations? 

  •  People were reluctant to share their COVID diagnosis. It is a very “private” congregation. 

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

  • Keeping the “Lord, hear our prayer” pastoral prayer liturgy. 

  • No more passing the plate for offering. 

  • The church has a role for people who may not come on Sunday mornings. 

  • People can be community without being on the church rolls. 

Recorded Audio Interview with Rev. Karen Halac of North Greenwich Congregational Church

Subscribe to our emails
Framingham, MA Office

1 Badger Road
Framingham, MA 01702

Hartford, CT Office

125 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105

Toll Free Phone: 866-367-2822
Fax: 866-367-0860
General Email: