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Coping with COVID-19: Kelly Skilton

As part of our on-going series, we speak with Kelly Skilton, founder and director of The Sonder Collective.

What is The Sonder Collective?

It’s a collaborative youth and young adults community that connects individuals from smaller congregations across Victoria.

How has your work been affected by the COVID-19 crisis?

In my little pocket of the UCA all three areas I work across (Kelly is also Youth & Young Adults pastor at Murrumbeena UC and chaplain at Monash University’s Caulfield campus) have been affected in different ways. It has meant the responses have also varied, from putting our community focus online, postponing all events, or trying to find new ways to connect with those with no internet access.

How have you responded?

Because The Sonder Collective gathers as a dispersed community via camps and regions, including an online region called SonderCloud, it has meant we had already developed the infrastructure to move the whole community online into a child-safe, functional forum.

What do you most want to preserve or focus on during this period and what is most challenging?

We want to preserve the intentionality of why we meet. We are all from different home churches across different denominations and locations. We do not need to be a community that live-streams its services, as it is not something that answers why our community gathers. Rather, we are trying to find different ways to meet for faith formation and peer connection.

Do you have any ideas or advice from your experience to share with others doing similar things or in similar circumstances?

The online world has endless possibilities. Rather than being caught up with what everyone else is doing, try and find what your communities need. The SonderCloud team has worked for months and months to create a welcoming and safe place online. We have used only one platform that has been used by the online gaming community. Something completely left of field, but it answered our need as a safe, intentional community.

Do you have a personal message or faith reflection that you would like to share?

During times that feel a bit rough, I often fall back on the vision that began The Sonder Collective ministry: little purple flowers shooting up through the cracks of the desert ground. May we remind one another that God teaches us that beautiful things can grow during times that look and feel barren. A dispersed community is not only possible, but five years in, The Sonder Collective is flourishing.

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