First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn

Brooklyn, New York

Project Director: Christopher Neuner

To develop best practices for engaging and uniting online and in-person worshipers in formative and participative worship.

Summarize your grant project and how it will address a need in your worshiping community.

Establish meaningful practices that connect our newly formed remote congregation with our in-person congregation. We experienced growth during the pandemic - deepening and growing our spiritual practice in virtual community, developing worship leaders of all ages, and finding ever more creative ways to tell God's good news story. As we prepare to open our doors again to in-person worship, we seek continued depth and growth in old ways, new ways, and ways yet to be discovered. 

What two questions might you ask about worship in the coming year that will generate theological reflection and shape your project?

1) As new members have found their way to us in the virtual space during the pandemic, how can we now invite in-person and virtual worship participation that is formative and that continues to connect members one to another regardless of physical location? 

2) How can hybrid worship best engage and spiritually form members of all generations in our Christian faith and what have we learned from virtual worship that invites greater intergenerational worship leadership and formation? 

How will your project impact the worship life and habits of the congregation?

We seek to hold on to the best of pre-pandemic, in-person worship and blend it with the best of fully online worship. We believe hybrid worship will continue to shift habits in this way: increased interest in worship leadership and creativity, more regular church attendance because of deeper sense of connection to others, meaningful and supportive post-worship conversations that connect worship with daily life. With deep rooted faith we intend to send our congregants into the world better equipped to live like followers of Jesus. We further intend to equitably serve members of our community wherever they are by establishing inclusive practices that meaningfully keep us connected and build our community regardless of physical location. 

What might be your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)?

1) We are balancing the desire for a swift return to pre-pandemic worship with what we appreciate about virtual worship. Our challenge will be to hold onto the good learning we have acquired from both. 

2) Continuing to offer worship that is meaningful, formative, and technically excellent in a hybrid world. Maintaining high quality worship that is partially live and partially recorded will be a challenging balancing act. 

What do you hope to learn from the Grants Event and other grant recipients?

1) Would love to think together about being a worshiping community after the year that we have had. While the traditions of worship are timeless, there is also a sense that we can never go back to before. What opportunities for vital worship present themselves in this moment?   

2) Being in community with other church leadership will open our eyes to possibilities not yet imagined. We look forward to being with others seeking to tell this good news story in creative and transformative ways.