Overcoming Barriers to Friendship During a Pandemic

By Heather Voskamp, ON

Right now our Friendship Group looks different and is smaller than normal, but we feel very blessed to be able to connect with each other. Recently we had our 5th time meeting at the church, with one previous outdoor meeting, and we had our best attendance yet. We had 15 guests in the fellowship hall meeting in person with masks and staying distant, and then 17 connecting online via 10 Zoom logins. We use a hand-held tablet to highlight the faces of those that are at the church for those that are Zooming in.

The technology has been challenging. Recently our meeting was plagued by technical challenges for some trying to connect. Not giving up, a phone call was made to touch base with one member who couldn’t get the Zoom link to work. We also used our Facebook Messenger group chat to interact with a group of three whose computer had crashed minutes before the Zoom meeting was about to start. We are still very much a work in progress when it comes to Zoom, but we keep smiling and plunging ahead.

We are two lessons into the TOGETHER “Creation Keepers” material. We have been reviewing what we had already covered as we try to get everyone comfortable logging in and coming back to our group. Prayer has been a big part of our group and we have been singing and signing a few simple songs. Singing has been a challenge as we experience a slight lag in our Zoom connection. Keeping the songs simple and having those on Zoom leading with the actions for different verses helps them feel a real part of the meeting.

Our next step is to have everyone who has been able to connect so far reach out to those who have not, either by a personal phone call or a greeting card. We will be making care parcels for those who are homebound.

While we feel a real loss of what used to be, the feedback we have received by those participating in our virtual and socially distant Friendship Group has been very positive. The synchronous ministry is greatly appreciated. Before the lockdown, I was feeling a bit burnt out. It could have been so easy for me to step away for a while during this pandemic, but your encouragement made it very clear that our Friends need to stay connected.

Are you starting a virtual group? Find more tips on our blog.