Pause with Pastor Joel – June 12, 2023

I just returned from Annual Conference Session. That is the gathering of United Methodists within our Conference, which encompasses the state of Michigan. Each year the church gathers together.
It was an interesting year because I wasn’t able to attend much of Conference because I got sick with strep and had to quarantine while the antibiotics did their work to make me no longer contagious.
It’s never fun to be sick. It’s less fun to have to stay alone when you came to an event with the express purpose of working, eating, talking and working with over 1000 people. Yet here I was.
I felt like I was missing out on a lot. I suddenly found myself really relating to the members of our congregation that are homebound. It was an important moment for me as a pastor.
I am aware that these people are in our congregation. I try to do my best to reach out to them and keep them in the loop, but being isolated has the natural result of making us feel disconnected.
I realized I was grateful for the ways in which I could connect. The entirety of Annual Conference is streamed, so I could sit in the condo and watch what was happening.
When the pandemic started, we began streaming as a congregation. I have had lots of people ask when we will stop. The reality is we won’t because it means connection for so many that felt disconnected prior to our streaming.
I also found it frustrating when things didn’t work on the Annual Conference stream. It gave me a better understanding of how frustrating it can be to homebound folks and those that choose to join us digitally when things don’t work the way they’re supposed to.
We are working to make our streaming of our worship at Goodrich UMC the best that it can be. Please keep giving feedback when you can so that we can find ways to make it better.
I wasn’t able to join people for meals or experience the face-to-face interactions that happen when there isn’t business happening at Conference and this is not different than the reality for the people in our congregation that are homebound. Yet I wasn’t totally disconnected. I was able to experience some of Annual Conference, more than I would have been before the technology existed to stream those meetings.
For that I’m grateful and after my experience at Conference, I will continue to work to make sure that those that are homebound will be able to connect with us at church as much as possible.

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