Our congregation has a large number of retired people who escape
to the south every winter, for periods from one month to six. After
we spent a winter up north
in a building project and snowbirds returned feeling left out of the process,
I decided to e-mail snowbirds each winter. As people get ready to leave, they
leave their email addresses with me or our secretary, and I add them to my list.
Even though they may access the church website and receive the newsletter, my
e-mails add a slice of daily (or weekly) congregational life. I send on prayer
requests and follow-ups, tidbits of good news, and an occasional weather update
or comments on community happenings. Gossip is not allowed. Prayers are with
the permission of those prayed for, same as our prayer chain policy. In return,
I get their news, including prayer request from the south, and often keep them
in touch with each other as well. Feedback tells me this helps people feel very
much a part of Lakeside even though they are away, and minimizes "culture
shock" when they return.
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