Updated: May 10, 2021
It has been more than a year now since the pandemic hit the world and
knocked it off its proverbial axis. Churches, restaurants, schools, and businesses shut down and entire societies went into isolating lockdown.
For small community churches, such as the First Spiritualist Church of Salem, the pandemic posed an existential threat. Open seasonally from September through May, the closure in March 2020 absorbed half of the usual calendar of events. At a time when we needed each other the most, the safety of our community required that we isolate from one another indefinitely.
Unlike larger churches and temples, we were technologically unprepared to swiftly switch gears and establish new ways to connect and continue our slate of events. However, by the reopening in September 2020, a professional Zoom account was secured and Zoom roles were assigned and trained.
Through virtual meeting technology, the First Spiritualist Church of Salem has been able to secure workers for Sunday services that would have been impossible otherwise. We have been blessed with the presence of mediums from the United Kingdom and the far reaches of the USA. Though we’ve had to work a little harder at maintaining a sense of community and mutual supportiveness, our Zoom services afford us the opportunity to chat and connect
before the Sunday service begins and most excitingly, to open our virtual doors to people across the globe.
Whereas the past year and a half has been painful for many people due to job loss, sickness, and for some, the sorrowful and difficult loss of a loved one, there is a small comfort in the extended family our church has been able to create.
If there is a silver lining to this pandemic situation, it is the irony that as our local and immediate world has shrunk and become isolated, our larger sense of community has expanded and connected in
ways previously unimaginable.
Each week, we look for the little squares that appear on our computer screens searching for the new connection we have made with that person from out of state or from another country who is now a familiar face and welcomed warm presence in our church community. We have become a larger, stronger spiritual family with the commitment to maintaining those connections even after the world is allowed to gather again in person. According to Board President Patti Brooks, we will find a way to combine the best of both worlds—the physical and the virtual—to continue to share and to grow, bringing Spiritualism and the love of spirit to our spiritual family, no matter where on Planet Earth they live.