This is a trying time for any person or organization, but especially those that advise others through trying times. A church often serves as a place of solace during these circumstances, usually amplifying worship opportunities to provide individual support as well as communal unity. While that is particularly difficult to offer with recent social distancing protocol, Reverend Amy Fallon aims to meet the needs of Kirksville’s Trinity Episcopal Church through several remote alternatives.
In response to calls for church closure, Fallon has invited her congregation to live stream services from the national cathedral while interacting via Google Hangouts. Here members can make commentary, spread peace and engage in a number of simulated church activities. Fallon also encourages attendees to gather via Zoom following each time of worship for virtual coffee hour.
“The social after church for us is almost as important as church itself,” Fallon said. “One other thing that’s very cool about it is that members who have moved away but who are vital parts of our congregation — we can invite them to come. It’s a nice way to sort of connect with our past in the midst of this very weird present.”
Recognizing these silver linings is important to Fallon. As the vicar of a tight-knit local parish, she understands the necessity of looking at the bigger picture while inspiring her small congregation.
Amid this transition, she is now presented with the task of caring for both herself and those who rely on her wisdom. Fallon acknowledges the challenges that come with such responsibility but chooses to take them in stride.
“I think I’m like everybody else,” Fallon said. “I have good days and I have bad days. I always knew that I thrived on structure, and now I’m finding out just how much I thrive on structure. Just trying to kind of figure out a structure to my week, my day. Sometimes it goes really well, and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Nevertheless, helping others continues to be etched into her schedule. Fallon regularly works with students at Truman State University through the church and Episcopal Campus Ministry. The weekly meetings that once allowed them to convene at school are now being held over Zoom at 9 p.m. every Sunday.
This gives the chance for not only current students to check in and chat, but also alum. Fallon tries to reach out to these individuals in a variety of ways outside of that medium.
“I’m updating our Facebook page more often, trying to include kind of fun church-related videos or memes to amuse people,” Fallon said. “We have fallen back on that old-school connection of email. I have gone seriously old-school and I’m sending snail mail to people. I have to go to the Dollar Store and buy cute stationary cards and buy stamps, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve done either of those things.”
COVID-19 brings more change to daily life than simply modes of communication. Church leaders adjust to these fluctuations just as they do with everything else: with spiritual perspective in mind.
Fallon does not neglect the fact that normal life habits must shift. Instead, she embraces it.
“There can be moments of grace,” Fallon said. “We can find moments where we can grow in our Christian faith … that we can be kinder to one another, that we can hold back on snarky comments we might be inclined to make. Those of us who are physically able to be out can assist others, do shopping for them, fix stuff outside their homes.”
Though current circumstances bring immense challenges, Fallon tries to look at them with greater purpose and advises her parish to do the same.
“The slower pace of life puts us more in tune, I think, with the way God intends us to live,” Fallon continued. “I don’t think that multitasking is necessarily a good way to live and I don’t think it’s how God intends us to experience time. I hope that when we come out on the other side, we might live at a more gentle pace — that we might have have a better sense of what our priorities are and what are the nonessentials — so that we live a life that would be more in tune to what God would want from us.”