This year at Auburn Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, our canvass theme was, “A New Chapter…Together!” We were excited: the congregation has a new minister, me, and we’re doing exciting things together. Quite frankly, in light of all that has happened in the last few weeks, from unexpected deaths of beloved members and, now, social distancing becoming the new norm, I wonder now if we maybe weren’t being terribly ambitious.

Over the last week, we’ve started learning to connect more and more virtually, even as we keep our distance physically, finding ways to be together even when we are apart. What I am finding is that there are many more people out there who need the community we’re offering than have signed the membership book. They just needed a new way to connect that we weren’t offering!

Some of us in the ministry business have wondered if one of the unintended consequences of COVID-19 is that the church, as a cultural institution, is going to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century, that we’re going to find new ways to connect and reach folks outside the traditional Sunday morning paradigm.

That’s the lesson so far for me: that community, in today’s technological world, extends well beyond physical space. We need one another, and we need to take advantage of the ways the internet offers to check in with one another.

Like anything, these virtual tools can certainly be misused to breed fear, anger, and distrust, but I believe, at their best, we can find means of connection our grandparents sorely could have imagined.

A traditional African proverb says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” None of us want to be in our current situation of social distancing, the extroverts and ambiverts among us most of all. Maybe, though, this is our chance to find new ways to go together, to take advantage of tools of connection to bring us together at a time when so much is ripping us apart. Together, just maybe we will be able to go farther than we ever could have dreamed in this new normal.

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