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Creating community in digital spaces during a pandemic


Thursday’s 1001 Zoom call features pastor and author Emily Scott

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Emily Scott, an author and church planter, will be the featured guest at noon Eastern Time Thursday during a Zoom conversation put on by 1001 New Worshiping Communities. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — Evangelical Lutheran Church in America church planter and author the Rev. Emily Scott, leader of an ELCA new church project, Dreams and Visions, and the founder of St. Lydia’s Dinner Church in New York City, will be the featured guest on a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)  1001 New Worshiping Communities Zoom conversation at noon Eastern Time on Thursday.

Scott is author of “For All Who Hunger: Searching for Communion in a Shattered Word,” scheduled for release on May 12. That book explains how community was created during and after Hurricane Sandy, an October 2012 superstorm that did more than $70 billion in damage and killed 147 people in 24 states, the Caribbean and Canada.

“Her insights will be perfect for this moment,” said 1001 NWC national coordinator the Rev. Nikki Collins, “as we adapt to social distancing and worship online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Scott said that because she is not one drawn to online spaces, the coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges. Because she is trying to create the most participative Zoom worship possible, Dreams and Visions has peppered its worship with readings where any voice can join in. Time is set aside to hear from all worshipers about how they’re doing.

“We need to feel seen and heard,” Scott said. “We need to experience laughter and smiles.”

Scott said she’s a bit stunned at how relevant the themes in “For All Who Hunger” have become. Not only is the book about how building community in crisis acts as a salve to loneliness and connects people to their neighbors, it also focuses on systemic injustices — particularly economic disparity. During a disaster, Scott said, the most vulnerable suffer the most.

“I fear we’re going to see a terrible amount of financial destruction hit communities that live in poverty as a result of COVID-19,” she said.

“We’ve created a situation in which so many Americans have no financial padding,” she said. “And this crisis will hit them all the harder. I believe that’s a sin our nation has committed.”

While it’s unclear if the pandemic will delay the publication date for Scott’s book, one thing is certain: the coronavirus makes the basic theme of the book ring true.

“We need one another,” Scott said. “As difficult as disaster is, it opens for us a space to meet one another in powerful ways.”

The 1001 Zoom conversation will also feature New Worshiping Community leaders and pastors of traditional congregations who will share what they are learning in this crisis.

 To join the conversation, click here at noon Eastern Time on Thursday, March 26.

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