How One Church Used Trivia to Stay in Touch during the Covid-19 Virus Shutdown

He crashed his plane and landed in a tree. After blacking out he fell 70 feet. She had a cooking show on 11 Alive TV in Atlanta.

These are two of the many questions which have been a part of our weekly Trivia Quiz started by our pastor Marion Clark at Lake Oconee Presbyterian Church as a means of keeping our members connected during the Corona Virus social distancing.

It all started in early March after our church had its last service on March 8th.  Our pastor began writing a daily email letter to the congregation containing news to keep us all updated on church activities.  He ended each letter by asking members to stay in touch with each other by making a phone call or sending a note to encourage each other.  I decided to call some friends who I knew were alone or had medical issues and find out how and what they were doing during this stay at home period.  After a few days of making those calls it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to contact other members so I got our church directory and started calling a few people every day.  I was a little hesitant to call people that I didn’t know, but when I told my pastor what I was doing he encouraged me to call everyone. So after about 2 weeks I had made 137 phone calls and talked to almost everyone in the church.

It was very encouraging to hear that without exception everyone was busy with gardening, home projects, exercising, reading, knitting, walking, and various other activities.  No one complained about having to stay home and most were enjoying their leisure time. As the majority of our congregation are seniors, we are blessed to have younger members who volunteered to help shop, run errands, chauffeur to appointments, or whatever was needed. Our elders and deacons were also available to help where needed.

During this time period Pastor Marion started the Tuesday trivia quiz. It is comprised of 10 questions about the Presbyterian Church in America, our local church, recent sermons, and information about some of our members or regular attendees. The answers were sent out on Wed. and most everyone enjoyed the participation. Pastor Marion asked everyone to send in any interesting facts about themselves that he could use, but people were reluctant to respond. It occurred to me that I could start going through the church directory again and this time instead of asking how everyone was keeping busy, I could ask them about trivial facts for our quiz. It was amazing that most everyone had done something unusual, had a unique job, or met someone famous or interesting, had enjoyed a special vacation, gone on unique mission trips, served in the military in combat, or had a life threatening experience.

Once I started the conversation,even if they were hesitant at first, after they started telling about an experience the information just flowed and I started to fill up pages with trivia.  I wrote everything down and sent it to Pastor Marion and he had the Herculean task of choosing one question out of so many wonderful experiences. Marion had so much information that he began making the trivia just about our congregation and everyone seemed to enjoy trying to answer the questions.  It has been fun learning usual things about our friends from church..

I think Pastor Marion would agree with me that all of the hours spent on the phone checking to see how they were doing during the social distancing exceeded our expectations of connecting with our church members and regular attendees and letting them know the church was there if they needed anything. The trivia phone calls and quizzes have been a means of getting everyone involved in a group activity that is fun and we have all learned some very unusual and interesting facts about our friends and helped us to make new friends. We are all looking forward to being able to have regular services again and I think we will all be meeting new friends and asking questions like “how in the world did you fall out of an airplane?”

Submitted by Barbara Pomarolli