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I miss the fellowship of worship together.

Online services will never substitute for meeting in person, but I have been amazed at the dramatic increase in “attendance” at website worship. Friends and former residents around the world partake of music, prayer, communion and teachings.

Young mothers listen at 2 a.m., teenagers tune in from their beds, and walkers with earbuds commune in nature.

Pre-pandemic, churches realized that we couldn’t continue Sunday morning as usual if we wanted to reach and serve the next generation. As a pastor, I longed to expand our online presence, but we channelled our limited energy into church as we understood it. Now we are discovering new gifts that enable us to offer an experience we never imagined.

Following Easter, we read in Acts how hard times spurred the disciples to spread the good news beyond their comfort zone. Difficulty inspires leaps of faith, and God is able to redeem bad things with surprising new life. Death comes before resurrection.

Many congregants don’t think of themselves as vulnerable, despite age or complicating health risks. I do not want them to choose between worship and life. I do not want to lose church elders prematurely. But I am overjoyed to witness congregants reaching out to minister to each other and be the church creatively.

May people of faith nurture physical and spiritual life. May this be an opportunity to spread good news without harm, that our houses of worship may emerge stronger and better together.

RENEE ANTROSIO

Champaign