Gardenside Chat with Bill Evertsberg
October 14, 2020

Bill touches on the difficulty of change, and the necessity to evolve in a changing world.


Hi friends, my name is Bill Evertsberg and I’m one of the ministers at Kenilworth Union Church. This is Doogie, my assistant minister.

I guess I don’t have to tell you that the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has been a powerful agent of change in our world today. It has unimaginably accelerated changes that were already in the making before March 13, 2020.

Now for instance, we all thought that in white collar industries working from home would become the new normal in a window of maybe 10 years but that shift happened in a matter of days. A headline in The Washington Post read: “Americans May Never Go back to the Office Again.”

Can you believe that? This charge is being led by companies like Twitter and Google and Facebook and Microsoft. We may never go back to the office again.

Churches expected that the shift from mostly on-campus ministry to mostly virtual ministry would occur in the same leisurely, convenient, 10-year timeframe. That move literally happened in a matter of hours.

One thing we’ve learned during this coronavirus is that you flex or you die, you evolve or you go extinct, and you know I hate this. You know, theologically, politically, socially, I’m a proud liberal. I like to see things change and to move forward but in everyday matters I kind of hate change. I’m sort of existentially, instinctively, natively conservative. I don’t like it when things change from cassette tapes to CDs for example, and then from CDs to streaming media.

I’m sort of instinctively conservative and opposed to change but the status quo is no longer available to me. The pandemic has changed American Christendom not just for now but for the foreseeable future.

For instance, recently the staff began thinking, before Halloween, about what Christmas Eve might look like. We were trying to figure out how we’re going to replicate remotely the experience of, for example, singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” with the accompaniment of a brass quintet, or that panorama of lit, lofted candles to the singing of “Silent Night.” Of course, we can’t replicate that exactly, but we’re working very hard to envision a meaningful facsimile of that inimitable moment.

Someone said that churches during the pandemic are sort of like the Hebrews immediately after they were freed from slavery in Egypt. You know we’re sort of out there in the desert. We don’t know where we are, we really don’t know where we’re going, we don’t have a vivid vision of what home looks like. So we have three options right?

We can go back to the way things were. We can go back to Egypt where we were comfortable, where it was kind of cool, but that’s not really a very attractive option. Egypt is gone, it’s not available to us anymore. The way things were is not an option.

Or we could continue to wander around indefinitely in the wilderness. We can keep working and worshiping virtually, keep maintaining physical distance from each other, but that really doesn’t sound like much fun either.

So maybe the third option is the one we ought to strive for. We have to keep moving ahead toward the promised land, toward the unknown future. It’s kind of scary because we don’t know what that land of Canaan looks like.

But it might be home for us. It might be a land flowing with milk and honey and so that’s where we’re going, what we’re going to count on. The staff is doing its best to lead you to the promised land, whatever that might look like.

Do you know why they make coins out of metal? It’s because change is hard. But it’s also money in the bank, so we’re going to be okay. God bless you.

October 14, 2020

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