Storrs Congregational Church

Storrs Congregational Church

Photo Snapshot of 2020 at Storrs Congregational Church

Interview with Rev. Debra Pallatto-Fontain

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 the two pandemics impact your mission and ministry activities? 

The pandemic definitely impacted everything. We had to be creatively adaptable in order to allow the Mission to be Live: 

  • Developed an amazing trust in each other. 
  • Food Pantry stayed active 
  • With regard to Racial Justice, the Outreach team lead a book discussion and Windham Area Interfaith Ministries (WAIM) offered Zoom meetings on Racial Injustice, which we participated in. The Just Peace Social Justice team has grown, is even more active, and includes UCONN students

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

  • We continued Sunday worship, immediately moving to a Zoom format and then live-streaming on YouTube. This transition was made possible by our Organist and small Tech Team. 
  • We created a PowerPoint instead of a Bulletin 
  • We incorporated music, using We had rehearsals, but they were physically distanced.  
  • We were able to maintain connections with one another through a "Caring Ministry" that offered rides and meals. The Caring Connections program engaged 30-40 people, who made phone calls and sent notes to members of the congregation, and later made home visits once it was safe to do so. We ensured that some connection was made every 2 weeks. 
  • We recorded lessons and carols during the holiday season, even using a drone for video. 
  • We offered different programs to connect with people, including Bible Study on Wednesday mornings, Wednesday Evening in the Vespers, Tea Time, and Zoom Lunchtime visits.

What were the low points, failures, or frustrations? 

  • We wanted to be adaptable and we also wanted to be safe. We resumed in person gradually and had strict guidelines, including a mask requirement.  We required people to sit in family groups every other pew. 

What were the high points and successes? 

  • For music, we really made an effort.
  • Our Caring Ministry – Caring Connectors program was a success. 

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

The previous pastor, who served there for ten years, left in the December before the pandemic. They learned: 

  • They could get through challenges 
  • The Church is resilient 
  • They truly loved one another 
  • They empowered leadership to do their work without an overreliance on the Pastor 

Video Interview with Rev. Debra Pallatto-Fontain 

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1 Badger Road
Framingham, MA 01702

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Hartford, CT 06105

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