Along with parishes throughout the diocese, we at St. Clement's in Lynn Valley were keen to stay in touch with our children and youth throughout the various pandemic disruptions.
As we couldn't gather in person for a number of months, we took the opportunity to connect with our young people in a more personal, intentional way. The clergy wrote affectionate "snail mail" notes or letters to each of our young people, which were especially well received by our youngest kids who don't often get mail of their own.
We provided links to parents with ministry materials for youth, dropped off "Holy Week in a Bag" to all who requested it, and sent personalized, age-appropriate recommendations for audio Bible stories for those kids who might listen best if they were in the car or if their hands were busy doing something else. An all-ages parish activity involved many individuals colouring letter-sized pieces of an Illustrated Ministry mosaic, which were joined together to form a celebratory "Alleluia" butterfly once we were again able to meet in person.
When summer began we dropped a gift-wrapped book to our children, teens and young adults. The faith-based books had been personally picked for them and varied depending on age and interests. While it's not easy to pick just the right book for someone, we hoped they might strike a chord, especially among some of our young adults who have recently embarked on university studies. And it was a good exercise in holding that young person in our thoughts as we tried to discern what might suit them best!
Given the sudden need to switch to online liturgies (first pre-recorded, and then livestreamed once we opened up for in-person gathering again), we were given a great opportunity to ask our younger members for help. They stepped up to assist with hardware, Facebook Live ins and outs, and website streaming. They played instrumental roles in greeting and ushering once we were back in session, as many of our usual greeters were still worshipping with us from home to lessen their risk of exposure to the virus. We also had a number of young people participate in our parish fundraiser for Shelter Movers - they made friendship bracelets, wrote letters, and danced at a seniors' home all in aid of the organization's vital work in moving adults and children out of unsafe homes. I hope a lasting memory for our youth is how much we value them as unique individuals, and how much they have to offer in return - pandemic or no pandemic!
Peggy Trendell-Jensen is a deacon at St. Clement's in North Vancouver.
The Covid Chronicles are stories shared from around the diocese of what ministry in and with families is like in this strange season. Read the others here. We know it’s not all roses but it’s not all thorns either. The small steps we are taking to connect with each other, the experiments in online worship and formation, the space we make to feel all the feelings – that’s what we want to share. We’ve all been on a steep learning curve – at times exhilarating and at times exhausting. Where have we met God in the midst of it?