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In the midst of COVID-19 isolations, Jay Y. Kim‘s Analog Church: Why We Need Real People, Places and Things in the Digital Age (IVP) gives us reasons to look forward to an end to physical distancing.

Natasha Duquette offers a daily moment of reflection with 30-Day Journey with Jane Austen (Broadleaf).

New Brunswick Theological Seminary offers a March 31, 7:00 PM (EST) live-stream discussion on Social Distancing and the Supper – Thoughts to Consider for Reformed Congregations. The zoom conversation is full, but you can still listen for important insights and ideas.

Hope4CE shares a really basic but helpful outline for creating community on zoom between elders, caring individuals, and kids and families.

d365 is an online daily devotion that includes leading questions that could be discussion starters for a youth group and forma/Faith@Home share regular/weekly RCL “lectionary-based readings and reflections” that could do the same.

And check out the newly revamped Ministry Lab website for Holy Week and Easter faith formation and worship resources curated from across the web.

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Six New Things: Friday, 03.27.20, Supplemental

Baker Publishing shares literature aimed at helping us “fight our fears”.

InSpirit, the UU Bookstore, shares poetry to soothe, inspire and offer hope.

Beaming Books offers a bunch of at-home resources for parents, including projects, books and a DVD. Leaders might share in increments, or offer the whole page to parents.

Dwell Sunday School curricula offers free downloads and sharing during social distancing. Whether you use Dwell curricula or not, they have some fun ideas.

The Upper Room offers online e-courses for small groups (one free, others half-price), meditation and prayer groups, inspiring videos and more.

Each judicatory has their own COVID-19 Response page: The MN Conference UCC, The MN Annual Conference, UMC, and the Presbytery of the Twin Cities.

Dr. Jeffrey Van Wingen, MD created a youtube video on how to bring groceries into the home safely. It’s lengthy, but he covers a lot of really helpful ground.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department offers tips on emotional well-being. There are lots of important links in this article!!

The Ministry Lab’s Emily Meyer offers several study guides based on movies and series, including Iron Man (2008), Spider Man (from 2002), Messiah (Netflix, 2020), and – coming soon: movement and activity-based Frozen 2!

Watch The Ministry Lab’s website for a curated and organized resource page; coming early next week.

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Six New Things: Thursday, 03.26.20, Supplemental

Resources for healthy conversations even in the midst of COVID-19.

Many judicatories are urging folks to avoid intimate and/or confidential conversations on most online platforms in order to protect vulnerable individuals and maintain healthy boundaries. In our rush toward community via technology, it can be easy to lose sight of potential hazards.

The Inter-Group Association of AA for New York, Inc. offers some best practices suggestions here. Judicatories are working to create guidelines and potentially additional platforms to ensure confidentiality, safe boundaries, and general best practices. We’ll post those as soon as we get them!

In the meantime – and perhaps for engagement well into the future, I give a shout-out to the UCC FourThursday Faith Formation Folks: we met to share ideas and concern and resources, and I was gifted with a ton of at-home supports for parents and kids of all ages, abilities and identities around the topic of sexuality and sexual and gender identity.

Amaze has youth-, parent-, and educator-based sites including short youtube videos on a slough of sexuality and gender topics, including for people with different abilities.

Sexuality for All Abilities, as the name suggests, offers resources geared toward talking with kids with different abilities on topics of dating, sexual activity, identity, marriage, and family.

Scarleteen‘s home page is all about coping with COVID-19 from the perspective of sexual and mental health for young people. They have free text, message board and live chat options for immediate help for kids suffering abuse (which is likely compounded in these stressful and isolating realities), or those feeling depressed, anxious or confused. And there are a number of links to additional resources for mental and sexual health questions.

Sex, etc. is for teens, by teens with topics ranging from talking about sex in an immigrant family to dating abuse; from abortion to pregnancy; from condoms and safer sex practices to how to talk with doctors or parents – among many others.

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Six New Things: Wednesday, 03.25.20, Supplemental

Michel Gribble-Dates and her daughter Joy share a youtube video of their Son Salutation from Story and Stretch.

UCC Faith Formation Leaders gather every FourThursday for networking, support and info-gathering. Sounds good, right now, yes!!?? Leaders of all stripes and backgrounds are invited to join this week in the discussion of on-line-ing church and at-home faith formation. Here’s the zoom info:

Time: Mar 26, 2020 12:00 PM (NOTE THE NOON START!!) Central Time (US and Canada)

One tap mobile:

  • +16468769923,,190948039# US (New York)
  • +13126266799,,190948039# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location

  •         +1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
  •         +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
  •         +1 301 715 8592 US
  •         +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
  •         +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
  •         +1 253 215 8782 US

Faith+Lead has posted yesterday’s Faithful Adaptations Webinar on Holy Week worship. Tomorrow’s Spiritual Care webinar can be joined by any and all.

The ELCA offers an outline for the 4th Sunday in Lent: Worship in the Home. Pastor Keith Zeh, DEM, (NWMN ELCA Synod) has created a template letter for use with your congregation on stewardship.

The Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network offers a one-hour online training with Dr. Tami DeCoteau: Tips for Educators: Supporting Parents in a Pandemic; April 2, 1:00 CST.

For individuals or families looking for some way to share or do good, Avenues for Youth share suggestions for supporting homeless youth.

Sign up to receive Shalem Institute’s Wednesday Wisdom for a day-brightener. Share with neighbors and parishioners as a gift and discussion fodder.

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Six New Things

Worries Are Not Forever and its new companion Worries Are Not Forever Board Book (both available bi-lingually in Spanish) are timely offerings from Free Spirit.

Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope (IVP) could be an excellent parent/youth at-home/small group discussion.

You could share the trailer for Materiality as Resistance: A Seven-Session Manifesto with Walter Brueggemann to spark interest in the book for a discussion group.

Nick Ripatrazone‘s Longing for an Absent God: Faith and Doubt in Great American Fiction (Broadleaf) could be interesting, on its own, and might lead to using some great American fiction in future discussions; while Laura Fabrycky‘s Keys to Bonhoeffer’s Haus: Exploring the World and Wisdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (also Broadleaf) might lead to deeper exploration of Bonhoeffer’s life and works.

Jonathan Catherman invites us toward self-improvement – as a whole generation! – in Becoming the Next Great Generation: Taking Our Place as Confident and Capable Adults and encourages faith formation leaders in shaping future generations in Guiding the Next Great Generation: Rethinking How Teens Become Confident and Capable Adults (both Baker Book House).

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Six New Things: Monday, 03.23.20, Supplemental

Richard Rohr continues to support us all with words of wisdom and hope.

Underground Seminary’s “In the End, the Beginning”: Climate Catastrophe, Church, and Permaculture, is now online only: Monday, March 23, 7-9pm. A zoom link will be sent to registrants, only!

Faith Inkubators offers a pdf-format Pandemic Hope: A Family Devotional for Life During COVID-19.

Our Hennepin County Library system has made an array of resources available online. This could be an excellent way to make adult, youth and kids books accessible for small group discussions and at-home faith formation.

In a similar vein: resources for your own edification or that of your congregation (again, choose any number of items on here as a small group discussion or as illustrations for faith formation groups) in Arts and Culture; Activities; Educational courses; or Health and Wellness (from counseling to basics on COVID-19 protocols).

As always, use what’s helpful or inspiring; chuck the rest!

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Six New Things: Saturday, 03.21.20, Supplemental

Today’s post is intended to sustain you church leaders: this is all for you. Internalize and use what is helpful; discard the rest.

My friend, an air traffic controller at the Dubai International Airport (and therefore no stranger to stress), shared Kitty O’Meara’s Daily Round post from March 16th on his facebook page. You may find it hopeful and inspiring, if you haven’t read it already.

Richard Rohr shared some helpful thoughts (as usual) on March 20th.

The Shalem Institute is offering a number of free online resources and courses to support mental and spiritual well-being.

The following two are not free, so if that feels like an advertisement you don’t have time for, skip the next paragraph:

The Minnesota Zen Meditation Center has online courses starting soon and Michel Gribble-Dates offers a two-hour Build Your Immune System Workshop ($35) has a two-week Tidy Your Temple toxin cleanse starting Wednesday (bring a friend for free, when you join at $149) and is offering 15% off her Story and Stretch: A Guide to Teaching Kids Yoga Using Gospel/OT Stories (code: “spring2020sale“). That last can help you at home with your own kids, or it can be shared with your parents looking for at-home faith formation activities.

A Luther Seminary classmate, Tessa Moon Lieseth, now interim pastor at Horace Lutheran Church, reflected on March 17 about her family’s move to South Africa, several years ago, posting, “I am recalling our early days in South Africa. We didn’t know how to do *anything* and it was exhausting! We developed a one-thing-a-day rule. And what that meant is that we could only expect to tackle one thing a day. Some days that didn’t even happen… It helped us moderate our expectations… [T]here is a lot of hard thinking and new territory. I’m trying to remember to be gentle with my expectations. This could be a long journey. Take care of yourselves, everyone! This applies to you, too!”

Indeed: take care of yourselves, everyone. Don’t forget that God’s Sabbath mandate about rest is in the Top Three, and those mandates do, indeed, include even you.

Hearing and heeding this reminder, I will take tomorrow off for Sabbath rest and encourage you to find a day when you, too, can rest in God’s limitless care and grace.

Be well.

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Six New Things: Supplemental

In the interest of supporting all those on the front lines of meeting needs and concerns of parishioners, loved ones and your own souls, I offer the following resources:

This month’s MN Conference UCC’s FourThursday faith formation leaders gathering will be a zoom meeting. The topic, not surprisingly, is mutual support and resourcing around changing dynamics in faith formation ministries in this time of social distancing. Connecting info is below:

  • Time: Mar 26, 2020 11:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)
  • Join Zoom Meeting
  • Meeting ID: 190 948 039

One tap mobile

  • +16468769923,,190948039# US (New York)
  • +13126266799,,190948039# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location

  •         +1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
  •         +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
  •         +1 301 715 8592 US
  •         +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
  •         +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
  •         +1 253 215 8782 US

Meeting ID: 190 948 039

Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/aJknUw7ll

I’ll do my utmost to post the above again on Thursday.

You might share Rev. Dr. Michael Piazza’s daily blog, Liberating Word, with suggestions for ways to use home time as renewing, rather than allow it to become a curse, or, as he writes, allowing the virus to “infect our souls, even if our isolation kept it from getting into our bodies”.

Share the free call-in Mindfulness Classes, from Mindful Schools: help parents and kids destress while doing something that is creative, bonding and long-lasting for their well-being!

Share Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation email/blog and discuss!

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Six New Things

Excellent food ministry ideas abound in Five Loaves, Two Fish, Twelve Volunteers: Growing a Relational Food Ministry (Upper Room), which seems extremely timely.

FOR COVID-19-SPECIFIC RESOURCES, PLEASE SEE THIS WEEK’S SUPPLEMENTAL SIX NEW THINGS POST.

For tackling completely unrelated topics, you may find Our Good Crisis: Overcoming Moral Chaos with the Beatitudes (IVP) enlightening. Or, When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community from Emotional and Spiritual Abuse (IVP) may be helpful.

If you somehow have extra time on your hands for curriculum planning, check out WKJ’s children’s curriculum, Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible Curriculum; Growing in Grace & Gratitude for Lent and Easter Seasons; for a multi-disciplinary approach, check out Feasting on the Word, with downloadable pages for all K-12 ages; for middle schoolers, see Big God, Big Questions: Confirmation for a Growing Faith; for youth check Simple Sundays: What Do I Believe?.

Gift C.S. Lewis fans of all ages with 30 Meditations on the Writings of C.S. Lewis (Abingdon). Other new contemplatives may enjoy A Beginner’s Guide to Practicing Scriptural Imagination (Upper Room). Skeptics may find Anne Bokma‘s, My Year of Living Spiritually: From Woo Woo to Wonderful – One Woman’s Secular Quest of a More Spiritual Life (Douglas & McIntyre) refreshing.

The Rev. Dr. Gary Simpson, Luther Seminary Professor of Systematic Theology, is lecturing on The Challenge of Leadership: Ministering in an Election Year; check the website for livestream information.

FOR COVID-19-SPECIFIC RESOURCES, PLEASE SEE THIS WEEK’S SUPPLEMENTAL SIX NEW THINGS POST.

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Six New Things

Join Brooklyn Avenues Community Connectors for A Social Justice Film Festival benefit: Arts for Avenues features three short documentry films, panel discussions, spoken word artists and art created by the youth at Avenues for Youth.

For a different avenue of social justice, step into Nativity Lutheran’s free Blessed Are the Peacemakers seminar with Pardeep Singh Kaleka and Arno Michaelis of The Forgiveness Project (for free!); read Vince L. Bantu‘s, A Multitude of All Peoples: Embracing Ancient Christianity’s Global Identity (IVP), on the roots of Christianity’s diversity; pop into Westminster’s Town Hall Forum with Bill McKibben talking about Building a Movement to Stop Climate Change; or clean up your own interior with Michel Le Gribble-Dates’, Tidy Your Temple Seasonal Reset Course.

While we’re on self-care: come to UTS and Treat Yo’ Self on Wellbeing Wednesday, boost your ability to help others with Laurie Wollner’s HTI Healing Touch Certification Program, or hone your hearing-young-people super power with Lacy Finn Borgo‘s Spiritual Conversations with Children: Listening to God Together.

Refresh other pastoral skills with Faith+Lead‘s Faithful Innovation Summit: Sharing Jesus in a Secular Age, or learn from Lisa Cressman how to Craft an Effective Sermon by Friday: The Quick-Start Guide.

Got kids and rain? Get Rebecca Koehn‘s (author) and Simone Krüger‘s (illustrator), After the Rain (Beaming), or check Beaming’s website for Six Rainy Day Activities for Young Children: there’s plenty to do even if the weather makes you blue!