By Kyle Gascho
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen our world change in many different ways. Many of these changes can seem pretty challenging and negative.
Before COVID-19 hit with one fell swoop, my grandfather (who lives in a long-term care facility) was in very poor condition. Not being able to see him because of the pandemic has been upsetting to say the least, and knowing the stress and fear my grandma is experiencing right now about losing too much time with him makes it all the worse.
I believe this pandemic to be a blessing in disguise. I also believe it to be a sign from God. Set in our habits, rituals and very structured way of “doing” church, the word change (for many) was not necessarily at the forefront of our vocabularies. This pandemic has forced drastic change on parishes throughout the Diocese of Huron and the wider church. These are changes that could only have been dreamed about or changes that would have taken many years to develop and implement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many parishes to seek alternative means of delivering worship and nurturing faith and spirituality in parishioners and beyond. Many parishes across the Diocese have started utilizing necessary technology to achieve this. With pre-recorded worships services uploaded to YouTube, worship services livestreamed on the internet through YouTube, Facebook, Zoom, etc., we have broadened the scope of our reach to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. While all of this technology may seem scary to a lot of people, in many instances, it has helped us to grow together as parishes, faith communities and church families. It has also helped us collaborate with one another through many different obstacles to keep moving the Church forward into this crazy new world we’re living in. While things will never completely go back to normal after COVID-19 starts winding down, we need to be careful of letting ourselves fall back into old habits.
We need to keep up with the technology we have started using in our churches even after COVID-19. I truly believe this pandemic to be a sign from God. It is the push we need to bring our Church into the 21st Century (or at least to the 20th Century depending on who you ask). These new methods of “doing” church may just help us to bring more people into our faith communities. As parishes, we need to look beyond the end of this pandemic and continue to look into the long-term future of who we (Anglican Churches) will be in and what we will look like in our communities in the many years to come.
As the Verger at St. James’ Church in Stratford, my role has drastically changed. What was more of a liturgical role and assisting with ensuring the space was ready for worship on Sunday mornings, it has now become more hands on with the day to day operations of the parish in an IT or techie role.
When COVID-19 hit and it was no longer an option to have staff working on-site and being open to the public, the daunting task of setting up our office administrator with the ability to work remotely was something I tackled. There will always be some hiccups when big changes are made but it was accomplished! This task heightened the realization in my parish of the need for technology.
I am continuing to work with the parish leadership and members of the congregation to achieve some big goals for the future of our parish and the role some technology will serve in accomplishing these goals. Technology is here to stay, so we may as well use it to our advantage.
Glory to God, whose power working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
Kyle Gascho is a Staff Support for the Huron Refugee Committee and the Verger at St. James in Stratford.