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Dove's Nest Blog

Replacing Hugs and Handshakes with Sign Language

It was the twelfth week of Zoom worship services at First Mennonite Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. The pandemic had put a stop to all in-person church activities, and the congregation was getting restless. Zoom had its many benefits: We could safely “see” each other and share in real time. We could sing (while muted) with the musicians, make announcements, and listen to the sermon. We also introduced a new element of the service called “spotlighting.” As one of our musicians played, each participant’s screen would be showcased for a few seconds. The spotlighted people would wave and smile, and we would all enjoy seeing everyone in the congregation, however briefly.

Best Practices When Working with Youth During a Pandemic

In this season, where COVID-19 compels congregations to gather virtually, many adults are wondering what that looks like for youth ministry. What boundaries are appropriate? The Yale Youth Ministry Institute has compiled these recommendations for your consideration as you develop your own policy of church safety practices for virtual gatherings. (Note: While the advice below attempts to be universally applicable across all settings, it is highly encouraged that leaders be informed of their insurance provider’s recommendations and policies.)

A Petition and Prayer

Gracious God, we petition you from a world in dire need of your grace and peace.

Our children need our continuing protection amidst the death-dealing conditions of a coronavirus pandemic and racial discrimination.

We cry out in lament for the impacts of this uncertain time on our children
—rhythms of school and play are disrupted; customs and rituals are curtailed and circumscribed; familiar routines have dropped into uncertainty.

Raising Children in a Racially Unjust America

So that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. —Ephesians 3:10

Prior to the racial justice uprising this summer, a group at my church read Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey. I am learning that, by default, many of us who are white are raised to be colorblind. We are told to not notice differences. “Oh, we’re all the same on the inside,” white children hear from adults, in books, and in movies. This attitude is not compassionate. Racism thrives when white people do not address it in their families and communities.

Involving Children in the (Virtual) Worshipping Community

In March, as houses of worship were responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, my congregation scrambled to discover ways to worship without gathering in person. We hoped that the entire worshipping community would experience a smooth transition from worship in the sanctuary to worship at home. For adults, we trust that worship will feel right through the familiar weave of music, prayer, scripture, and sermon. But for children?

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