The native seminarian from Grand Forks was featured in a New York Instances article about dealing with trip alone
Remer, a student at the Luther Seminary in St. Paul, is doing a year-long internship at the Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Jamaica, Queens, New York.
She was selected for the Times article after responding to an inquiry from the newspaper. A reporter and photographer spent parts of three days with her interviewing and taking photos, she said.
Before Remer, 25, moved to New York in August, she looked forward to an internship where she met members of the Church, mostly from Guyana, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.
But it’s been a lonely experience, she said.
The church was open for services from Labor Day until early November, “but now we can no longer have normal services due to the pandemic,” Remer said.
“The only other social interactions I have been able to have (with parishioners) are funerals or vigils, and those are at a funeral home,” she said.
She said she was hoping to connect with members of the Queens Church at church services or to lead personal Bible studies and youth groups. An annual fall carnival that brings lots of people to the streets to celebrate has been canceled this year due to COVID, she said.
“We miss the big things that make a church,” she said.
Last fall, until personal services were banned, only 24 people were allowed to attend services, masked and posted in pews with signs during service times to keep people physically separated.
“Even though I met people, I joked that I only met half of them because you only saw half of their faces,” she said. “Your interactions with them are very limited in terms of conversations as well.
“I feel embraced by this community,” she said. “It’s so funny when we did personal things people would say, ‘Oh, I saw you online,’ and I would say, ‘But I didn’t see you; I do not know you. ‘”
She enjoyed connecting with people in Queens as much as possible.
“People everywhere are super welcoming, super welcoming,” she said. “They really want to get to know me, how it feels, and want me to be part of the community as much as possible and make me feel welcome too.”
She usually spent about 13 hours in church during the Christmas break, attending services, and preparing things.
“But now I’m just home doing a puzzle and getting ready to see (the service) online,” she said.
Speaking to the Herald on Thursday, December 24, Remer recalled growing up in Grand Forks, the daughter of Fred and Donna Remer, and attending Lutheran Calvary, where she was baptized and confirmed.
She usually spent December 24th with her family, celebrating her birthday in the morning, and serving as a porter or worship assistant at church Christmas Eve services.
In those days when the pandemic was so affecting society, she said, “It was difficult, but it gives me a lot of hope for the future (as a church leader) to find out things – that was a very different way of doing church as we know it. It will be good for many places to think about what worked and what didn’t and how we as a church can evolve for the future. “
As the coronavirus pandemic subsides, it is important to consider what changes should continue, Remer said.
“Once the churches go online, you can’t really remove your digital presence,” she said.
Through her virtual services, her Church in Queens “reaches out to the family at home in Guyana or England or Canada; We have a lot of people watching in the Philippines – that’s how it becomes such an international presence. They all watch and think, isn’t that some form of church too? Are they not digitally part of our community then? And how can you remove the church from them when they turn on?
“I think once you get it out there you really can’t get rid of that online presence – because someone has to need it if they keep watching,” she said.