During the last months clergy colleagues in the Columbus metropolitan area have found two ways of staying connected during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Columbus Bible Buds at Whetstone Park in September.
The Bible Buds is a group of about six to eight clergy who gather every Tuesday to discuss the lectionary texts for the following Sunday. This group was founded in Columbus by the Rev. Canon Lynn Carter-Edmands when she was rector of St. James, Columbus. She had been part of a group with the same name when she was in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. A few years ago, the Rev. Marjorie Menaul, also a former member of the PA group joined the Columbus group.
So, this group has been meeting for about 10 years, mostly at St. James, Columbus. Until March, 2020, when everything stopped. But in April, a few of us began meeting by Zoom, and continued to do so until the Rev. Elizabeth Hoster and the Rev. Bruce Smith saw each other in Whetstone Park in the Clintonville section of Columbus. Elizabeth suggested we meet outside – in the park – and we have been doing so ever since. When it gets too cold, we will go back to Zoom, or find a safe indoor venue. Participation in Bible Buds these days ranges between four and eight colleagues. We not only discuss the lectionary texts, but we spend time checking in with each other, sharing our joys and concerns.
Wednesday Clergy Zoom meetings
On Wednesday afternoons, the Rev. Stephen Smith and the Rev. Cameron O’Reily have been hosting since August an hour-long Zoom meeting of Columbus-area clergy to share our experiences with liturgy and parish ministry during the pandemic. This gathering usually brings out about a dozen colleagues, some still in active ministry and some retired. We have learned how various congregations are designing their Sunday liturgies and formation programs to meet the needs of their congregations during these trying times.
Creativity and flexibility abound! Some congregations have been worshipping in their church buildings since Pentecost while others offer Zoom Morning Prayer from places other than church buildings. These weekly meetings have been helpful to all of us, I think, even if it is only because we see each other without masks!
The Rev. Bruce Smith is a retired priest, serving as an associate at St. James, Columbus.