New Apostolic Church USA

Still Connected

"Connected but Apart" from the 2020 Spring Vision Newsletter

We would like to introduce a sister that has a very relevant experience that she’s been kind enough to share with us: Linda Blessing is a Linked Member who lives in Timberon, New Mexico. She created a virtual small group with members from across the country, and has agreed to share her experience and give us some tips for taking our small groups virtual during this unique time in our country.

As a Linked Member, I didn’t have the option of attending a face-to-face small group, so in January 2016 I created a Facebook page and put out a call to anyone who might like to join me in a virtual gathering. By God’s grace, someone responded and we have been meeting ever since.

We were two for a few months, but slowly the word began to get out and we have slowly grown over the years to ten regular participants - most of whom have a local congregation but are unable to attend a small group there. We ten cover every time zone in the country with participants in New York, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and California. Periodically, others who are temporarily away from home have joined us too.

One might wonder how such a gathering can be personal and intimate. We have found a very close tie with one another. It could be the same in a face-toface gathering, but I believe what has drawn us close is the sharing of experiences, frailties, failings, and concerns. We pray for one another and encourage each other. We have truly grown to love each other and we typically end each session saying just that. Last year I traveled across the country and visited almost everyone in our small group.

The platform that we use is GoToMeeting. We only use the audio option because some of us have slow internet connections - although internet is not a requirement. Most of our group calls in. You need a designated facilitator to set up the meetings each week, to send reminders, and to send the study materials via email to those who cannot get them themselves (not mandatory but it helps with participation). It helps if attendees mute their phone when not speaking to keep background noise at a minimum. We have found that the sound quality in playing the recorded script is poor so we take turns reading the script. That practice also allows discussion as thoughts are prompted during the reading. The facilitator can assist if two or more begin speaking at the same time by asking one to speak and then calling out the others one at a time. Some may think that is a big problem in this type of meeting, but it doesn’t happen often and everyone is very respectful when it does. Keeping the group to a dozen or less has likely been helpful to prevent that issue.

Small group discussions have added such a depth to my spiritual growth. I have heard from others in our group that they feel the same. Hearing others’ experiences strengthens my faith. The discussions support and reinforce the word from the divine service. During this time of physical isolation, we crave our gatherings even more. - LB

Latest NAC USA Announcement