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COVID-19: Task Force on Theology and Ecclesiology

COVID-19 Theology and Ecclesiology Task Force
Capturing our way forward-engaging in discussions about God and Church

During this time of disorientation, uncertainty, and change, God’s call to us has not changed: as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to be a people of faith, hope, and love.  Our faithful response to that call depends on discerning how the Spirit is at work in our individual lives and in the communities to which we belong. 

As members of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, each of us has a part to play in God’s unfolding future.  Every voice counts.  To that end, and under Bishop Scanlan’s directive, a COVID-19 Theology and Ecclesiology Task Force has been assembled.  The purpose of the Task Force is to provide a venue for all people in our Diocese to process the effect the virus has had on our spiritual lives and theological thinking, to record the liturgical and social changes we experience as Church in this unprecedented time, and to offer theologically sound guidance as we continue to move through this crisis together.

It is in this spirit that we invite you to reflect on how God has been moving in your life and community during this time of disruption related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  What have you learned – about yourself, your community, your relationship with God during these past few months?  These and other questions can guide us in gaining a deeper awareness of God’s work in and through us, and they can help us to discern the ways in which God invites us to co-create a hopeful future with God.

Our primary vehicles for doing this faithful work are threefold.  First, the Task Force will record discernible changes in liturgy and parish life through a widely distributed survey. The survey will give us important information about how we have been responding to the challenges of this time.

Secondly, the survey will be followed by numerous focus groups. The first set of focus groups will happen simultaneously with the survey, using the first set of questions below. As areas of interest develop from the survey, further groups will explore these findings. In addition to providing opportunities to explore survey themes in a more intentional, focused way, by their nature, focus groups tend to inspire necessary and life-giving systemic change.

What are focus groups? To learn more, click here.

Session I is an opportunity to ascertain how our churches responded faithfully during COVID-19 in the areas of Worship, Pastoral Care, Christian Formation, Children & Family, and Youth.

To participate in the focus groups here, please see the dates and signup links below.
Session I
Tuesday, July 14 – Harrisburg and West Branch Convocation 6:00 to 7:30 PM. Click here to register.
Thursday, July 16 – Lancaster Convocation 6:00 to 7:30 PM. Click here to register.
Tuesday, July 21 – Altoona and Susquehanna Convocation 6:00 to 7:30 PM. Click here to register.
Thursday, July 23 – Northern Tier and Southern Convocation 6:00 to 7:30 PM. Click here to register.

Session II
This session is a deeper dive and a more profound look and theological reflection on the issues, concerns, and opportunities raised during our first Focus Group sessions. Special attention will be paid to discoveries about our relationships with God, with our neighbors and with our church communities.

Choose either date by clicking on the following link.
Tuesday, July 28 at 6 PM
Thursday, July 30
at 6 PM

For questions regarding focus groups, contact task force chair, the Rev. Canon Dan Morrow dmorrow@diocesecpa.org.

The final stage of our work will be informational and resource-based: survey results and focus group thoughts will be shared, and key learnings will be published in white papers. We will also offer a resource for parishes wishing to reflect theologically on current issues.  Our hope is that these learnings can assist individuals and communities with discerning the way forward, in discovering and re-discovering the wisdom and boldness we have to co-create our future with God and to re-emerge with a deep sense of hope as we continue our journey in the Way of Love.  

In Christ,
The Very Rev. Robyn Szoke-Coolidge
The Rev. Canon Chris Streeter
The Rev. Veronica Chappell
Mrs. Alyssa Pasternak-Post
The Rev. Canon Dan Morrow


[1] Adopted and adapted from Colloquy Guidelines, Virginia Theological Seminary, 2018.  Special thanks to the Rev. Jacques Hadler and the Rev. Dr. Allison St. Louis.

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