Photo Snapshot of 2020 at Pilgrim Church
Interview with Rev. John Hudson
During 2020, our nation 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?
- COVID - Totally changed everything in ministry because we were not able to gather together in a physical way. It forced us to redefine what “together” means and we had to adapt on how we came together as a community.
- The church pivoted so fast and so well. Within 3 days we had a camera up and we were streaming through Facebook LIVE, which is something we hadn't really done before.
- We were able to offer adult education through Zoom and were able to schedule more classes and get more participation. We also offered classes on writing, including writing about your life.
- We had to check in with people on a regular basis.
- We had to try to put a spiritual spin on what we were experiencing.
- Forming Faith gathering allowed us to look at COVID changes
- Racial Justice became an important topic. We have a sister church - Bethal African Methodist church - that we have been connected to for over 30 years. During COVID, the relationship of the pastors at the churches grew. We decided in the midst of the pandemic to have an arts response to the death of George Floyd. 400 people gathered on the front lawn of the church and a hired videographer and artist made a movie about the churches' relationship.
- To engage our congregation in discussions about race we ran a book discussion group on Me and White Supremacy, which lasted for 8 Weeks. We recognized that some people may be uncomfortable, but the way the world is at right now people don’t want to speak up. Most people know that we are privileged as a church and community, and with the death of George Floyed we have started to go deep and fast with one another. To tell the truth with one another in love.
- One of the advantages from being separated was that there was not as much conflict from everyone. People are not talking at coffee hour or during parking lot conversations.
How did your church continue to be engaged in innovative, creative and unfamiliar ways during the COVID-19 shutdown?
- We have been able to offer more Adult Education.
- We had 3 all church surveys to see where people were at.
- We used Streaming worship live on Facebook and Youtube.
- We posted "Keeping the Faith" video on Fridays as a way to connect to people during week.
- We started to operate an outside Youth Group.
- Our Meal Packing program put together 30,000 meals, following socially distanced meal preparation procedures.
- We created videos for each week in worship.
- Doing prerecorded worship gave us an opportunity to be creative.
What were the low points, failures or frustrations?
- At first everyone was excited to come together online in Facebook. At one point we had 110 screens, but that number started to drop down.
- Leadership cut back on staff hours and budget.
- Emerging variants made it hard to plan ahead.
What were the high points and successes?
- Our Racial Justice work and joint classes with Bethel AME were a big success.
- Having 400 People for the Racial Justice Vigil
- We had good and constant participation in Education.
- We were really able to stay connected with our congregation.
- What lessons, learnings or changes will your congregation carry into the future?
- The health and wellbeing of the people in the pews is the most important thing.
- The church is not a building — the more we put time and energy into the building - ministry will not work. But we should put time and energy in connecting our people with one another through education, worship, and fellowship.
Video Interview with Rev. John Hudson