“What is an installation?” someone asked me recently. “I know we had one twenty years ago, but I don’t really understand what it’s all about.”
An installation is a service that celebrates the ministry of a local church and newly called pastor and reaffirms the covenantal relationship of all of the churches in an Association, Conference, and other Christian communities.
That’s a mouthful! Basically, an installation is a time to make promises or “covenants.” And of course, you already know that a covenant is a promise made before God. I like the language of covenant. Being “installed” makes me feel like a carpet or a carburetor! A service of covenant, on the other hand, is a time to make promises to be pastor and people. It is also an opportunity to reconnect with churches in our area and to recognize that we are all a part of the body of Christ. God provides for us people in various parishes to support one another. We are not alone in ministry.
When we needed help determining what kind of live streaming camera to purchase, I called a colleague in Henrietta who I knew was live streaming and asked for advice. Not only did we get advice, a volunteer from Henrietta UCC came and helped us to get our camera set up and our system connected to YouTube. Scott spent the better part of three days volunteering his time to get live streaming up and running at another church in his Association. He is a shining example of the kind of support that we as churches can offer to one another.
The commitments we make at our covenant and installation service are promises to be pastor and people, but just as importantly, they are promises about how we will be connected to other churches in our Association, Conference, and in the world!
Usually an installation/covenant service happens within the first year of a pastor beginning ministry at a church. We had scheduled this service for May 31, 2020 which is the day of Pentecost. And, as you know, COVID-19 struck and the service was postponed. This fall, as we marked my first anniversary as your pastor, we took up the question of whether we should reschedule this service given the fears about spreading the virus.
So, we decided to do a new thing. We are having the first virtual installation that the Genesee Valley Association of the United Church of Christ has ever had! We went through the pros and cons of a hybrid worship service with some people in person and some live streaming and we compared that to a completely virtual service.
For me, faces are important. I want to see your faces and to know who is present. If we live stream, we will know that a particular number of computers are logged on, but we don’t know who those individuals are. They don’t have the opportunity to speak and to see the faces of others who are also logging on virtually. When we meet via zoom, we have names and faces and people can participate from their homes. We decided at Church Council to hold this service via zoom!
On Sunday November 15 you are invited to participate in a Service of Covenant and Installation at 2 pm via zoom. We also plan to live stream this zoom event. A zoom link will be sent to the email list and posted on the website and Facebook page for those who would like to participate in this service. This also provides for the opportunity for family and friends from far off places to participate in the same way as those right here in Canandaigua. Live streaming the zoom service will allow those who don’t have zoom on their computer attend the service by clicking a link on the website. The service will also be recorded and uploaded to YouTube, as are all our Sunday Services, so that people those unable to attend can watch it later.
I hope that you will join me as we covenant together to be pastor and people, as we affirm our connectedness to the Genesee Valley Association Churches, the New York Conference of the UCC and to churches in the Body of Christ throughout the world!
The service ends with an ancient tradition of the laying on of hands. How does that work virtually? Each person raises his or her hand to the computer camera and as we pray you will see a variety of hands on the screen all joining together in prayer. We know that God’s spirit will be with us even if we are not all in the same room or able to physically touch for the laying on of hands.
Thank you for being one of those hands offering your prayers and your presence on Sunday November 15th at 2. See you then!
Grace and Peace,