On the final Sunday of February, I preached from your pulpit that I believe this painful moment of human history is calling each of us, in our own way, to service. Of course I had no idea at the time that just a few weeks later the universe would call me to walk with all of you through a congregational year that promises to be like no other before it. As I sit and write to you, it is a few short weeks until I will be joining your Ministry team for the 2020-21 congregational year, and I am guessing you have a lot of questions about what this coming year is going to look like. Well, I want to start out by assuring you that I pretty much have no idea. No false-confidence here, we are fully off the map.
But this is what I do know: Community is still possible, real, engaged, beloved community. I think the phrase “social distancing” although well meaning, put the emphasis of our needed sacrifice in the wrong place. While we do need to maintain safe “physical distancing” practices, we can still find creative tech and non-tech ways to be safely social. I know we need it. And quite literally my favorite thing to do in the world is to figure out new ways to build, foster and grow community.
So while I don’t know exactly what it will look like, I do know that we will find ways to regain, and maintain, and yes, even to grow our interconnectedness throughout this strange time. I also know that the Ministry team I will be joining is already leading the way, with online Meditation meet ups, plans for Racial Justice themed small groups, beautiful worship, and more. We will keep trying new things, remain committed to growing our capacity to be present and continue to share our troubles and love with each other and the world.
As many of you know, I also run a community in Virtual Reality called EvolVR. If there is anything that I have learned from my journey in the wildly unsettled space of VR, it is how to fail fast. In VR, almost nothing has been done before, which gives that community a freedom to experiment. For better or for worse, the Covid-19 Pandemic has given UUCB this freedom as well. Most of what you have done before simply can’t happen in the same way right now. And while we need to do some mourning of what we must give up, we also need to realize that we have a tremendous opportunity to explore new possibilities.
While I didn’t know it six months ago as I spoke from your pulpit, I feel excited that the universe has brought us together in this particular and peculiar moment. Lets all work together to not simply “make the best of it” but to make something special of it. I look forward to meeting and being with you soon.
Rev. Jeremy D. Nickel