Union News

Reimagining Worship, a Conversation with Sandra Montes

Categories: In the News, Uncategorized

Sandra, students and many faith leaders are scrambling to adjust to a new normal as we take our lives online. As Interim Director of Worship at Union, what has this process looked like for you and the Union chapel team as you think about services and caring for the Union community?

I love social media and technology. I have been creating content for many years – including live services and other worship resources. I have also used Zoom extensively throughout the years and have led many webinars. Interestingly, we had a retreat at the beginning of this spring semester with a social media expert and we spoke about how we wanted chapel to be on social media – what we should post, etc. So, we learned some new things that we immediately put into place. So, although this was not at all what we were expecting, we all rallied and started offering virtual chapel starting on Tuesday, March 10. We have been posting different virtual chapels in a variety of ways since then and we hope that our community is feeling united through worship.

The Union Chapel has been taking its sermon’s online to meet student needs

With many of our rituals and services intended to foster community and belonging, how has this season presented an opportunity to reexamine what ministry and spiritual health look like?

Working with four amazing women, our chapel ministers Elisa, Hannah, Mary and Shola, I have learned so much! This season has presented the opportunity to be flexible and creative in our rituals. We are all different and have different needs so meeting weekly to talk about and plan our upcoming chapels helps us focus and imagine how each offering may work for a variety of people. My goals for chapel from the beginning was to be inclusive, diverse and hopeful. We pray that everyone who comes to chapel or engages with our chapel social media or with anyone of us feels welcome, celebrated and loved.

Have there been any tools, websites, or resources that have been helpful for you and your team as you re-envision chapel services and spiritual care? 

We have been using iMovie, Zoom, Zoom with Facebook Live, a virtual prayer/intentions wall, and all the bandwidth we can! We just got tripods and we’ve been using our cellphones to post on Facebook and Instagram. I also send out a weekly email to share our upcoming worship opportunities and we pray for our community and over the prayers/intentions as a team.

What wisdom have you been calling upon within your own tradition as you make meaning within this moment? 

I’m a pastor’s daughter and a pastor’s sister so I have been involved in faith formation since before I was born. I call upon the wisdom of my indigenous ancestors, my Christian ancestors and saints, and my family and my doctorate is in curriculum and instruction with a focus on technology, so I am relying on all those books and professors who helped me along the way. I feel like I have been formed throughout my life for such a time as this. And, I’m so grateful I don’t have to go at it alone.

Is there a word of prayer you would like to share with the Union community, and those beyond, as we navigate this season? 

As we navigate this uncertain time and as we may feel fear or uncertainty, let us remember our faith and draw deep breaths in what we know is true. Let us be gentle with ourselves and others, let us be salt and light. Let us be love and bring love to all especially where there is fear. And, when you can’t seem to gather the strength to carry on, lean on me and the rest of our Union community. Let us remind ourselves and each other that we do not walk alone. We have each other.
God, we read in Joshua 1:9 that you promise to be with us wherever we go and you command us to be strong and courageous and not be frightened or dismayed because you are with us. We are relying on that today as we feel that we may be in the middle of darkness, or in the middle of a storm, or in the middle of death’s valley. We call upon your strength, your love, your promises and we breathe in all you give us freely: love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Please carry us when we can’t walk, hold us when we feel faint, and recharge us so we can help others.