The length of a football field… A city block… Humans love to measure distance by referring to familiar spaces. If 2020 had its own unit of distance, it would naturally be the “6-foot social distance”—as in, “Wow! Can you believe we were only ten social-distances away from that bear?” or “Honey, I’m going to be late. The check-out line at Trader Joe’s is probably a thousand social-distances long.”
This year, we are more physically aware of distance than ever before. We can quickly measure six feet with our eyes. We know how to step off the running trail to let people pass. We feel miles and state-lines of distance acutely during the holiday season. We wonder how a simple window or door dividing us from our loved ones can feel concurrently like an inch and a galaxy of distance.
Creating community at a distance has been an overall theme and joy of 2020. One benefit of livestreamed worship and virtual Sunday school is that our church has been able to welcome new members from outside the Greenville area! These “distance members” hail from other parts of South Carolina—and even across the country. Distance members agree to the same covenant as local members: to be in worship, to get involved in a small group, and to be generous with their time, talents and finances. As equal members of the congregation, distance members receive the same prayer support, individual counseling and voting rights as any other member. (Psst…if you are a distance member, there’s a special welcome packet coming in the mail!) If you or someone you know would like more information on becoming a distance member, please email Matt Rollins or send us a message through the Contact Us button on the church website.
Geographic distance is just one version of distance. Our members in residence at care facilities or who are isolating at home are shouldering a specific kind of distance, as are their families. The first week of Advent, the Congregational Care team and volunteers assembled and delivered over 80 Advent gift bags to our homebound and assisted living members. A huge thank you to all those who helped bridge this distance by delivering a little Christmas joy!
I’m grateful for a community that looks for ways to bridge the big and small distances and a community who waits together to welcome the One who traveled what once felt like an impossible distance—the distance between divinity and humanity—to be closer to us than we could dream.