Serving in the time of COVID (SEC)
A Conversation with Jan Jones and Jerry Jagrowski, members of the Service & Engagement Committee
It’s tempting to think that church service has gone the way of pandemic restrictions and doesn’t exist anymore or will have to wait until things return to normal. Jan Jones, a member of the Service and Engagement Committee (SEC) has a different perspective on this. “I’m not sure people’s thoughts about serving have changed. Those who want to serve, and can, are serving.”
Jan is quick to give a shout-out to volunteers on Sunday morning who serve as greeters, ushers, members of the cleaning team as well as the teachers and leaders in the adult communities and in Kids’ Harbor. On Wednesdays, volunteers serve in women’s and men’s Bible studies—either in-person or virtually, in Kids’ Korner and midweek children’s programs. The Wednesday ministries have a longer break but plan to resume that first week of February.
Then there are people who, for example, grocery shop for their neighbors. “This is invisible to others,” Jan points out, “but still so important to show Jesus to others.”
Equally important to Jan is expressing thanks to those who serve. These public expressions of thanks, according to Jan are, a “way to encourage people to get on board with serving. It’s like getting on a fun bus to Disney World and the attitude of ‘c'mon and join our great adventure’ versus ‘we need you to serve" (said in an Eeyore, the old grey Donkey, voice). Typically, the people who are serving don’t want a personal mention or attention brought to their work, but we can still issue a huge gratitudefilled balloon or the work they are doing.
Throughout the pandemic, the SEC has been working behind the scenes. “Right now, we’re ready for our marching orders from the Discipleship Committee as it pulls together information from various focus groups,” Jan explains.
Meanwhile, the SEC has been “advancing the data capture and usage initiative that we were tasked with from the beginning of the committee,” Jan continues. “There’s a lot of activity going on with that.” SEC member Daniel Conroy has been working with Tony Visconti, digital ministry manager, on this project.
“This will help the committee reach out to church members and regular attenders who are not currently engaged and help them get plugged in,” Jan points out. “We also are using data captured by participants in the Gifted to Serve re-launch to help match interest and skills with ministry needs.” The committee also plans work with the Nominating Committee to identify church members who would fit well with upcoming open positions for 2021-2022 church year.
“We also work with new members to help them engage with the church body.” Jan sums up. “The committee is looking forward to connecting with the next class of new members this month.”
When it comes to connecting with others in pandemic times, Jan always offers an in-person, physically distanced connection. “If the weather does not cooperate/the person is not comfortable with that, I offer a choice of a Zoom-type call, or just a phone call. Many people are ‘video called out,’ so a simple voice call is often just the thing needed.”
Meet the Service and Engagement Committee
Referring to the most recent churchwide survey, Jerry references that one-third of our congregation is uncomfortable participating at in-person events right now. “To that one-third, what does service and engagement look like when you are completely virtual?” Jerry wonders.
From his perspective, Jerry encourages people to join an adult community or the men’s or women’s Bible studies. “They all offer virtual options and are a fine way to remain connected during these times. Or pick up the phone and call someone you know in the church and catch up with the person. As you talk, see if the person or family need any help.”
This past August, the SEC introduced informal Fellowship Meals that were a huge success and is looking forward to planning its next event to encourage the church family to stay connected, keep serving and
Jan and Jerry and the rest of the SEC are devoted to consistent prayer for church ministries and ministry leaders. “The SEC has divided up the ministry leadership team and is praying for them,” Jerry says. “I will tell you that I definitely am more engaged with those three people I am praying for and communicating with, and I trust the prayers are serving them.
“Be in prayer for specific individuals at church, be it in the body or the leadership. Then follow-up with those individuals on a monthly basis or so to touch base with them. Either a phone call or an e-mail,” encourages Jerry.
As the new year begins, the SEC already has plans for events such as the successful Fellowship Meals last August as the committee and the church family work together to serve, to connect and to pray for each other in times of a pandemic or not.