Peace UCC among the First Congregations to Try New Communion Services
After months of worshiping virtually, members of Peace United Church of Christ in Webster Groves, MO gathered cautiously in the church parking lot, wearing masks and carrying their own lawn chairs and food. Twice now, they have come together for a socially distant, bring-your-own potluck using communion betas from here at belovedcommunion.org.
Months earlier Peace UCC had formed a book club to read Recovering Communion in a Violent World: Resistance, Resilience and Risk. The final class of that series was a strategy session, group brainstorming how the congregation might implement some of the book’s suggestions. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted plans, but conversation continued.
When it appeared that outdoor, socially distant worship might be possible, the worship task group selected Communion Beta II for their first meal together in months. A few weeks after their first experience, they tried again, with Beta I. Each time, a leadership team of staff and lay volunteers reviewed the beta, made some changes, and divided up the leadership roles. For their first event, Music and Faith Formation Coordinator Darcy Swanson volunteered to serve as storyteller. For the second event, a member of the congregation, Christine Rohloff, did the storytelling.
Seminarian Jacob Nault, Student Pastor at Peace UCC, shared songs for the occasion, including “Blessed Are You, O Divine One.”
The pandemic prevented the congregation from trying out some of the most challenging and exciting aspects of the new meals––inviting guests, or feeding people who are experiencing food insecurity. Still, the meals brought the community back together and introduced new ways of celebrating Holy Communion that only the book group had encountered. “As we’ve gathered outdoors, Peace UCC has been given an opportunity to celebrate Communion in a new way,” said Pastor Wendy Bruner, “We are encountering the biblical stories and eating together in ways that are deeply grounded in God’s abundance. In these difficult times, it’s been a sacred experience.”
Have you tried some of the communion betas with your congregation? Send us the good news! We’d love to hear about how you did it, and of course pictures are welcome.