Each year, All Souls welcomes an intern or student minister who spends several months learning the business of the church and getting to know the staff and congregation. Each of these ministers brings something unique to their experience with All Souls. This year’s intern minister, Karyn Marsh, has the distinction of being our first to begin an internship online, and faced the challenge of helping to keep our congregation cohesive as we navigated the strange, new world of Virtual Church.
Wednesday Community Connections
Karyn was instrumental in the creation and success of Wednesday Community Connections online, with a weekly chapel and classes led by our members. Under Karyn’s direction, our members and friends were able to maintain fellowship through some of the most isolating days of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I am proud of my efforts to help the church pivot in light of the pandemic and revamp Wednesday Community Connections into an online format,” Karyn said. “I think it was successful in keeping some of the congregation connected and in experimenting with online capabilities for programming. I know it will change in the fall, but I like to think that my work gave folks a sense of the possibilities and jump-started the learning curve for doing hybrid church.”
Karyn first learned she’d be interning at All Souls in January of 2020. Three months later, lockdown began and the church building was closed. “I had discussions with Marlin and Barbara about how Covid would impact my internship. We decided to delay my physical presence in Tulsa for at least August and September and then play by ear. I felt a little disappointed because I knew that one of the goals of an internship is to immerse oneself in the life of a church which means interacting with the congregation. At the same time, I thought that working virtually would be an important skill to develop in this new age. Plus, it was nice to be physically close with my husband and furry children. I was dreading leaving my home and family for ten months,” Karyn said.
Coming to Tulsa
I think Tulsa is a terrific city with a vibrant culture, good food, and high quality of life.Karyn Marsh
Karyn eventually came to Tulsa near the end of 2020. Of her time working virtually, Karyn said, “Because of the pandemic, I formed bonds with the staff and lay leaders perhaps more so than I would have in the old normal.” Still, she wishes she could have spent more time in person. “Zoom was a lifesaver,” she said. “However, it cannot replace in-person meetings. We are three-dimensional creatures. Zoom doesn’t allow one to feel the energy of the room as easily or to pick up body language, and it certainly doesn’t allow for a hug.”
Karyn’s final sermon with All Souls was Sunday, May 23, and her last day with us is May 31. She has been accepted into the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) residency at Johns Hopkins, where she will be a chaplain resident for one year starting in August.
Despite the challenges she faced, Karyn has become an integral part of All Souls, and she will be missed. “I am taking away with me an affection for All Souls,” she said. It’s an affection that is shared.
Karyn Bergman Marsh is All Soul’s intern minister for 2020-2021. Since 2008, Karyn has been an active member and leader of Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, in Maryland, where she’s served many roles including the Membership Committee Chair, Bylaws Committee Chair, Lay Worship Associate, Board Secretary and Trustee. Raised Catholic, Karyn found Unitarian Universalism in her 20s. Prior to seminary, she was an attorney and geologist specializing in environmental restoration, both of which influence her theology. Learn more about Karyn in this post.