Resolved for 2022: Personal connection with every volunteer

December 26th, 2021

On a Tuesday morning in early March 2020, we received word in our community and church that the mayor shut down the city. Everyone was to stay at home have no contact with anyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first thought and words out of my mouth to the music staff were, “We’ve got to come up with a way to keep the community of musicians together.” Many of the musicians I serve with and care for are older adults. Many live alone and depend on the fellowship they have with each other at rehearsals and worship services. How in the world would we get through the six weeks until Easter, when I was sure we’d all be back together again, without being in community with those who shared our love of musical ministry?

We immediately made plans to be in contact with our musicians through social media platforms including Zoom and Teams. This group of people had significant issues with social media of any kind. I had never used Zoom, but I knew we had to figure it out to keep us as “together” as much as possible. It was important for us to gather weekly at the same time as our rehearsals, for several reasons. The most important, of course, was simply to connect with each other. We had to maintain the community that we had worked so hard to build over the years. The next important thing was to keep our regular rehearsal time as a sacred time. I didn’t want our singers and musicians to get used to skipping rehearsal or or establish new patterns that would keep them away from being involved in the ministry of music when we could gather again next to each other. Finally, it was important to celebrate milestones with our music ministry participants, to truly maintain our fellowship in the moments of pain and in moments of joy. 

During the first week of the shutdown, we scheduled our first Zoom call for the entire music ministry. There were many stumbles, reminding people to mute, unmute, un-share their screen, etc. It was a “Saturday Night Live” skit in a nutshell, but we were connecting. In addition to the scheduled weekly Zoom call, I planned special events. We hosted Zoom brunches, high teas, barbecues, and many other ways for our members to connect. These events plus the weekly pattern of Wednesday night helped our musicians to stay in touch with each other, with God, and with the church. Something changed as a result of this community-building effort. Since our church resumed meeting in person, our musical community has come back stronger than ever.

So in 2022 we are emphasizing this communication approach, and continuing to focus work on community. We wrote personal Christmas cards to every musician who is part of this ministry. We make notes throughout the year about our members and try to make the cards as personal as we can, so they understand that we know who they are, that we are grateful for them, and are blessed by them. Throughout most of the pandemic we have looked for ways to encourage and express gratitude for our volunteers individually, while maintaining our sense of unity. Another idea: we printed yard signs that said, “A valued member of the Music Ministry of The Church of the Resurrection lives here.” Each one was signed by every member of the music staff and hand delivered to every adult music members’ homes and put in their front yards. To this day, almost two years later, many of those signs are still in our musician’s yards. It was a blessing to us as a staff, and has definitely been a blessing to our volunteers. 

 I've learned so much about leading a ministry during the pandemic. But the most important thing was actually a reminder that caring for and creating community among volunteers is the most important benefit that we can give our musicians. The music ministry, much like an effective small group community, is a micro-church in itself. Going forward, we are looking for more ways to connect with the musicians on a direct, personal level, and then multiplying the impact to the larger body of worshippers. The time we spend together participating in worship, whether in person or virtually, is choice time well spent. It is soothing to the soul, and something we all need. 

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