April Workshops – Working Together
As life started to shift inwards and online in March, we at CCS began to hear needs from church leaders – a need for connection, for support moving meetings online, for meeting evolving pastoral care needs in new ways. Even as we were in the midst of shifting our April Learning Circles online and learning to work from home, we heard a need for education from people in the wider church. So we stepped up to meet it.
We offered a Zoom Tips workshop on April 7th – planning to share some of what we had learned from hosting online learning circles and Council and committee meetings. Our expectations of having maybe a couple dozen participants were blown away when our registrations quickly blew over 100! We got to experience our own learning curve, as we adapted our plan for a conversational workshop to one that had more of a webinar format.
Meanwhile, alumni Kathy Douglas, serving in United Church Regional ministry in Ontario approached CCS about emerging needs for pastoral care. In response we offered a series of three online workshops in April: Crisis Pastoral Care, Using the Action-Reflection Spiral as a framework for pastoral conversations, decision-making and personal reflection, and Trauma-informed Pastoral Care. For the first of these workshops we had more than 90 participants!
As the workshops unfolded, and conversations continued, we saw the leadership concerns evolve – from Easter worship to the cascading impacts of isolation. Even those tentative about technology are determined to connect, whether online, by phone or snail mail!
In this time of crisis we are also seeing the need for transformational leadership and recognizing the strength in diaconal areas of ministry. Faced with isolation, illness and loss – we see the importance of pastoral care. Responding to growing social needs, we need a vision for social justice ministry, and the skill to implement the vision. And we believe that education defeats forces of ignorance and fear.
The deacon and diaconal minister works at the threshold of the church and the world. This ministry is needed more than ever when the doors are shut – we need leaders who can still cross the threshold, who can interpret the good news of the church in the world, and bring the needs of the world into the church. The overwhelming participation in our workshops speaks to the importance of diaconal ministry, and the need for all Christians – diaconal, laity and ordained – to share the work.