[March 28, 2020] In February, when the threat of COVID-19 was quickly becoming a reality close to home, the Diocesan Support team considered possible alternatives for its upcoming Spring Training Education Day. By March, it was clear that things were only getting worse, and air travel was becoming unsafe. This was of great concern for our traveling guest speaker who lives in Canada, and neighbor island participants. It was decided to switch to a fully online event utilizing Zoom Video Conferencing.
Zoom practice session
The Diocese had already been using Zoom for a few years, especially when meetings involved folks on the neighbor islands. The challenge would be getting all participants on board. Meanwhile, travel arrangements were cancelled, instructions were sent out, and an open online training session on Zoom was schceduled a couple days before the event. The Diocesan Support Center secured additional accounts to handle the multiple sessions, and it was an anxious wait-and-see time.
As shelter-in-place restrictions went into effect mid-March, people were forced to explore new ways of communication, including the use of Zoom. Schools, businesses, families, and yes, churches, discovered the great possibilities of online conferencing when gathering in person was impossible. This was helpful in getting people familiarized with the platform ahead of Spring Training.
We are happy to report that the Diocese's first online event went well! Although the planned content for the workshops may have been altered a bit to accommodate these unusual times, the information shared was important for use long after this pandemic has passed. Most sessions were recorded and made available to participants to review at any time.
Many thanks to our speakers and to the Diocesan Support Team for working swiftly and tirelessly to make Spring Training 2020 happen!
Clergy Track: Revive, Innovating in Liturgy, and Vibrancy in our Congregations & Chatting with The Rev. David Stout
Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick opened the morning session for Clergy, and spoke about the current pandemic situation with stay-at-home restrictions and churches being closed. In these uncertain times, he addressed the potential loss of programs, income, and the resulting budget cuts that may need to occur, but he also offered encouragement and prayer, and recognized the steps clergy have been taking to continue worshiping online, and care for their congregants. He ended his segment with folks sharing their prayer practices during these difficult times.
Session host Canon Sandy Graham then introduced the Rev. David Stout from St. James' on the Big Island. Canon Sandy explained how the congregation was on the brink of closure when Fr. David came on board. It is now flourishing and is one of the most vibrant and active congregations in the Diocese. With humility and grace, Fr. David deflected the credit given him, and instead pointed to those who came before him, who sowed the seeds, who inspired him, and who mentored him.
With the help of his partner Bobby, who handles the "tech" for the church, they were able to share helpful information about the online services and live streaming they have been utilizing for years. During these times when churches cannot meet in person, online communication will be an important factor in keeping congregations connected. Fr. David also talked about the different ways to recognize and tap into the potential of each member, and to never be afraid to ask directly for help when needed.
After a short break, Clergy were treated to a session with Dawn Davis, the Author of Revive, “a small-group discipleship program for active lay leaders to help them grow in confidence as spiritual leaders who love God, and want to live a Jesus-shaped life." The program is designed to offer lay leaders a chance to be re-energized with new ideas as they learn about themselves and the God they serve.
Warden's Track: Revive, Spiritual Leadership with Bishop Bob, and Q&A with Rae Costa
Dawn Davis (see Clergy Track) started off the Warden's session with an introduction to Revive. As mentioned earlier, it is a small-group discipleship program for active lay leaders to help them grow in confidence as spiritual leaders who love God and want to live a Jesus-shaped life. The second half of the session was spent with Bishop Bob on Spiritual Leadership, followed by a Q & A session with Rae Costa, the Diocese's Business Manager.
Treasurer's Track: How does it all add up?
Danny Casey, Accountant, and Rae Costa, Business Manager, in the Diocesan Support Center, led the Treasurer's online session. They covered a broad range of topics, focusing on areas identified in a recent “How Can We Help You” Diocesan-wide survey. They answered questions and concerns from church treasurers. Participants also shared helpful ideas and practices, and the use of Tithe.ly for online giving. Wayne Yoshigai, Diocesan Chancellor, talked about Human Resource and employment law, and how the rapidly changing situations we are facing with COVID-19 can affect their employees.
Youth Leader Training: Youth Ministry 101 Are you willing to answer the call to Youth Ministry?
Led by Darrell Whitaker, Executive Director of Camp Mokule'ia, and Seini Lino, Program Coordinator at Camp Mokule'ia, participants were introduced to the essential building blocks for running a successful youth program. The session included an overview of best practices, curriculum resources, and communication techniques, and also covered the importance of relational ministry and how to attract youth. With the future of in-person gatherings in question during this pandemic, discussion also centered around the possibility of future online activities and events with youth.
SPICE, spouses and partners of clergy in the Diocese, joined together for Centering Prayer, discussion and fellowship. While social distancing, they are planning to meet regularly online and invite all spouses/partners of clergy to join them!