By Rev. Marty Levesque
We have all heard the phrase, “The New Normal” thousands of times during this pandemic. It is almost ubiquitous at this point, but it still merits pondering what it means and implies for us all.
It suggests two things really, 1) this is new, it is something we have never experienced, and 2) it is also what we should expect going forward, it is now customary.
This should mean much to us in the church, that out of necessity have rushed online so that we could still provide good quality worship, a connection with God and community while isolated. It means what we are doing today will continue to be expected of us once we return to the in-person church in September.
There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is that not all our parishioners will feel safe returning to face-to-face worship. Some will have underlying health conditions; others will be married to or are caring for someone who is considered high risk. The cameras will, simply put, have to keep rolling.
When we host Back to Church Sunday this year, there will be many regular attendees missing. Not because they do not want to be there, but because it is not safe while we are in the Amber Stage. Therefore whatever form of online worship you and your parish has chosen will have to continue, whether that be live streams, pre-recorded YouTube videos, and even digital coffee hour and Bible studies.
This “New Normal” will necessitate a hybrid model of digital and in-person church, community and worship. Each step of the way care will need to be taking to ensure no one is left behind when we re-open the buildings. The cameras and online engagement simply must continue and we will need to be more creative than ever before.
Welcome to the New Normal.
Rev. Marty Levesque is the diocesan social media officer and rector of All Saints’ in Waterloo.