The CHA Vestry meets monthly, from September through June. Like most Vestries of most Episcopal churches, we do not gather in the summer months of July and August. During the height of the pandemic our Vestry met over Zoom, and as virus numbers have ebbed and flowed, we have continued this practice with only a few exceptions.
One of those exceptions occurred this past month. We found ourselves feeling comfortable about meeting (and eating!) in person, and we all agreed that time together live would be a lovely way to mark the end of the “program year.” The agenda was finalized, the reminders were sent out, the pizza was ordered and at the appointed time we sat around the rectangular tables on the first floor of the Mission House to talk through the business of our common life.
Although I am not the most adept when it comes to technology, I am also not someone who denounces Zoom. I have been–and continue to be–profoundly grateful for the possibilities inherent in online gatherings. Not only did Zoom provide some of the glue that kept us together during the worst days of the pandemic, using Zoom opened us to new possibilities in worship and new ways of getting to know one another.
And…gathering in the same space is such a joy. Live exchanges tend toward a more free-flowing nuance often missing in the “once-removed” dialogue online. For the Vestry, this meant more conversation and more laughter. It also meant that, during the service of Compline that closes out every Vestry meeting, we could hear one another’s voices as we prayed.”
Our livestreamed services have been essential for people who live far from NYC, or who are feeling ill on a Sunday, or whose circumstances do not allow for them to get to the corner of 28th and 9th. It is wonderful to have opportunities to expand our community through the reach and portals of online technology. And I hope also that, as circumstances shift and change, those who are able to join us live will do so. Our community is strengthened when we talk and laugh together. Our worship is fortified when we can hear one another’s individual voices united in song and prayer.