It’s back to school and back to Echo!
Danny Churchill, Woodland’s Emerging Generations Pastor, says, “We’ve been in a tough spot and now we’re going into a new school year with its own unique stresses. Our Echo community is here to support parents and students as they face difficult choices and new realities.”
On Wednesday, September 9, at 6:30pm, we’ll kick off a “hybrid” model of gatherings for 7-12th graders that will continue for the duration of the 2020/2021 school year. This means that one Wednesday of each month (a total of nine gatherings over the school year), Echo students will meet in-person, while the other meetings will take place over Zoom.
Danny explains, “We wanted to use a model to meet Echo families where they are at. Some families are itching to meet in-person, while some are not ready yet. We thought this was the best way forward.”
Here’s what you need to know:
What can we expect on Wednesdays? Woodland’s Worship Center has been entirely rearranged to create space for groups of small, physically distanced circles. We hope the circle model helps everyone feel welcome and connected within the larger group. Parents and students will RSVP ahead of time, and also read through and agree to follow Echo’s safety precautions. We have the space to accommodate 100% of Echo students.
What will we do together in-person? Each service will have a worship experience, a teaching or sharing time and a group discussion. The in-person gatherings will focus on connecting in ways that are harder to do virtually. For example, we may use this time for testimonies. Because of the personal nature of testimonies, we will not record that portion of services, but we will record and share all teaching.
Will we sing? There will be a band, but following health recommendations, students will not sing along. Instead, this will be a time to connect with God through music by listening, praying the lyrics or perhaps activities like drawing.
Will we have Journey Groups? Journey Groups are Echo’s small discipleship groups. They will not meet during in-person gatherings but will kick-off online in October.
How will Zoom work? We will be sending private Zoom links to the parent email list. If you don’t get a link, email our Youth Coordinator, Katie Holmberg, at firstname.lastname@example.org, with parent and student names and grade levels. We hope to make these Zoom meetings special and unique in a way that our Echo students will look forward to!
As Echo kicks off, Danny has some words of encouragement: “This doesn’t have to be a year that is written off. We actually believe this could be one of the best years of Echo. When convenience and ease are removed, we can see what community is really made of. I’m encouraged that 20 students have signed up for leadership and we’ve had 24 adult volunteers sign up. We’ve also seen in our series on the Beatitudes that God blesses people who don’t have it all together and are down on their luck and we’re all feeling that a bit. We’re all struggling in our own ways, and I think God wants to do something here and that makes me excited.”