Covid reflections 3 – Positive things

The COVID-19 epidemic has done appalling things to our nation, to our economy, to our educational system, to our health care system, and to our churches and Friends Meetings. At the latest count (November 2021) more than 741, 000 people have died from COVID here in the United States – that’s more than the 620,000 who died in the American Civil War, and more than World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and 9/11 combined. More than 45 million people have had COVID.

Tens of thousands of churches and congregations scrambled to move their services online. Some are holding in-person services again, but many have found that people are reluctant to come back. In-person attendance in many cases is 50% or less of what it was pre-COVID. (The good news is that online services can significantly boost participation – here at Springfield Friends, we actually have more people watching online than we saw most Sundays before the epidemic!) A lot of people seem to enjoy coming to church in their jammies at home with a cup of coffee by their side.

It’s also important for church groups to make positive use of the “down time” during the epidemic. At Springfield Friends, we’ve used the past 22 months to do some pretty cool things.

  • We caught up with a lot of deferred maintenance – painting spaces which are normally heavily used, which would otherwise be difficult to work on. Our custodian was able to re-direct many hours of his time to “catching up” on long-overdue projects.
  • With so many kids being kept home from the classroom and having to do independent reading at home, we greatly expanded our children’s library. Throughout the epidemic, families took out books to use for school reading, book reports or just for fun. We took the opportunity to add dozens of books showing multicultural families, girls and women doing brave and interesting things, Quaker books, the Underground Railroad, families going through divorce and other topics. Some books were donated or bought at yard sales, but we also added many brand-new high-quality books with Caldecott and Newberry awards, as well as books recommended by the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
  • We put a lot of effort into energy conservation, recognizing that every dollar which goes to utility bills is a dollar we can’t spend on ministry. One major project was to renovate most of the 40-year-old fluorescent light fixtures in our building. At least 1/3 of them had burned-out ballasts, broken sockets or other problems. We bought case after case of high-efficiency LED replacement bulbs and repaired or re-wired dozens of light fixtures. Our meetinghouse is a LOT brighter and more cheerful, and our electric bills have gone down!
  • To help our younger kids remember our meeting, we produced half a dozen short 16 or 20-page pamphlets, illustrated with photos from our meetinghouse: The Bears Come to Springfield, The Church Mice Visit Springfield, Everybody Loves a Wedding!, plus two coloring books, Christmas ABC’s and The Springfield Coloring Book. We printed a few copies of each, and we also sent the books in PDF format to families so they could print them at home.
  • Another big project we finished during our “down time” was to install WiFi throughout our entire meetinghouse. Because our building has a lot of brick and concrete walls, we had to string Ethernet cable and install extension routers in some places and satellite WiFi units in others. All this work means that we can use WiFi in many new and exciting ways for worship, Sunday School, special events and rentals. We also purchased a large screen “smart TV” and turned a vacant Sunday School room into a media space.
  • Early in 2021, a tornado struck our neighborhood. No one was hurt, but two of the meeting’s roofs were damaged – skilled volunteers showed up in less than an hour to cover them with emergency tarpaulins. Almost a dozen trees were knocked down on the meeting’s property, including some which toppled headstones in our cemetery and seriously damaged our playground. Our meeting’s monthly work days cut and split several of the trees up for firewood (being used to make delicious North Carolina barbecue!) while other trees with straight trunks were cut into 12′ lengths and sold to a local sawmill, bringing some much-needed funds into the meeting treasury.
  • Springfield Friends has a building next to our current meetinghouse. It was built in 1858, just before the Civil War, and served as our meetinghouse till 1927. It houses the Museum of Old Domestic Life, a wonderful collection of locally-made tools, quilts, farm implements and things were used in everyday living in Quaker homes in the 1800’s. During the lockdown, we renovated several of the old exhibits and created a very special new one to display a large stone which came from a Quaker farm. It has a large arrow scratched into its surface, and according to meeting history, it served as a marker to point escaping slaves to the next station on the Underground Railroad.
  • The Museum also has a large collection of old documents, minutes, photographs and other fragile materials which needed better care. We cleaned and painted another vacant room in the meetinghouse, located several used filing cabinets, and moved 90% of the material from the unheated Museum into climate-controlled storage. We’re in the process of placing the most delicate materials into new acid-free archival storage, so that they can be preserved for the future.
  • Springfield will be 250 years old in 2013. Growing out of the document preservation project, we created the first in what we hope will be a 3-volume set of books about our meeting. The first book, Springfield Friends: 250 Years – the People of Springfield was published last summer, and we sold enough copies to pay for the initial cost of printing and to go into a second print run as well.

While the COVID-19 epidemic has been truly terrible – and we wouldn’t ever have wished for it. – our meeting has worked hard to turn the lockdown into positive time instead. COVID handed us a whole lot of lemons, but we’ve been busy making lemonade!


2 Responses to “Covid reflections 3 – Positive things”

  1. 1 Tennis and Trisomy 21 October 29, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been fortunate to work from home and guide my daughter with her distance learning. On her own, she has read a biography of Harriet Tubman and written many poems.

  2. 2 judithapplegate October 29, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    Thanks so much for this update. I admire all the work you have done.

    Sent from my iPhone

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All of the posts on this blog are my own personal opinion. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the members and attenders of the meeting where I belong or any organization of Friends. For more information, click on the "About Me" tab above.



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