"[H]ow deep is online worship really? Is God there with us in the ether? Are we being guided by something larger than ourselves? As we use videoconferencing tools more and more, our shared experiences tell me that the big-picture answer to these questions is pretty good, yes, and maybe. The Presence can be experienced while gathered online and our decisions can be guided by something larger than ourselves."
- Barry Crossno, "Where Two or Three Are Gathered Online"
2020 has been a year of seismic shifts for the Religious Society of Friends. The novel coronavirus and concerns for the safety of Friends who were especially vulnerable to it prompted many monthly meetings and churches to halt in-person worship and organize virtual Meeting for Worship, and a majority of FGC's affiliated Yearly Meetings decided to hold their annual sessions virtually. Online worship has been uncharted territory for many of us, and for Friends who have been unable to participate in the experience of Quaker community and worship in-person, the past six months have offered a glorious window into new possibilities. This was especially true of the Virtual FGC Gathering, which welcomed 1,000 Friends from around the world to a week of web-based workshops, worship, and community for all ages.
The COVID-19 pandemic is still happening as of this writing, and the reality is that we may be worshipping and making decisions together virtually for awhile. To answer this ongoing need, FGC is considering making our Saturday evening worship a permenant programmatic offering, and we've expanded our offerings of Spiritual Deepening eRetreats (you can check out the full Fall 2020 line-up here). Below are reflections and resources to inspire you and guide your Quaker community as you continue into these uncharted waters.
Friends Reflect on Virtual Worship and Events
- Where Two or Three Are Gathered Online by Barry Crossno, FGC
- An Online Lifeline for Friends of Color by Vanessa Julye, FGC
- The Outgoing Epistle of the 2020 Virtual Pre-Gathering of Friends of Color and their Families by Participants of the Pre-Gathering Retreat
- Staying Connected and Engaged During a Pandemic by Diane Randall, FCNL
- A Gathering Like No Other (A Reflection on the Virtual FGC Gathering) by Lori Sinitzky, FGC
- VIDEOS: Varying Quaker Ways of Worship and Sharing Friends’ Stories During COVID-19: Our Reflections and Our Hopes led by FWCC General Secretary Gretchen Castle
Virtual Worship Opportunities, from FGC and Quaker Partner Organizations
FGC is hosting multiple ongoing worship opportunities for Friends and spiritual seekers. Our Saturday evening worship is open to all, and we also hold virtual opportunities for faith and fellowship for Friends of Color only. We've created a resource compiling our web-based worship events, plus virtual Meeting for Worship from Quaker organizations in North America.
View virtual worship opportunities from FGC and Quaker partner organizations here:
- The Spiritual Deepening Library - FGC's free and in-depth web library featuring a collection of more than 150 activities for self-guided exploration or group facilitation
- A Conversation on Grief, Death, and Dying: A Resource for Friends during COVID-19 - a three-episode limited podcast series with Quaker Chaplains Blake Arnall, Lari Keeler, and Carl Magruder
- The Bible Half Hour from the Virtual FGC Gathering - five video recordings of Carl Magruder's enriching daily Bible Half Hour from the Virtual FGC Gathering