Grace, Mercy, and Peace from God, our Father, and from our Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Who we name as the Christ.
I’m writing this on Pentecost, just after having viewed today’s service online, and listening to Pastor Ralph’s excellent sermon on it being the church’s birthday and on what it means for us to receive the Spirit. Pastor Ralph also spoke of two types of stories from the Bible—uprooting and re-planting. Certainly, we all can see our uprooting as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In-person worship halted and in-person meetings and gatherings suspended due to the necessity of protecting the health and well-being of our congregation—our usual habits and comforts upended, forcing us to adapt to new circumstances.
During this time, we have been re-planted in how we consider our congregating and our gathering. Before the pandemic, we had not considered the potential of livestreaming our worship. Now we are able to reach not just homebound members or members who have relocated, but we reach a wider national and global community. Seeds are being scattered on new, fertile grounds and may bear fruit in places we never before imaged.
Our replanting into livestream worship has been extremely successful due to the hard work of Pastor Ralph and our technical crew of SarahJo Albertson, Diane Kellogg, Darren D’Ateno, and Azriah Bryant (and much appreciation to Jim Schnellenberger for the construction of the sound booth.). Linda Keener has skillfully adapted our strong musical traditions seamlessly into this new worship format. We have also successfully adapted to online meetings via zoom to conduct our ministries’ callings and many thanks are owed to those who serve in those ministries.
With the availability of the Covid vaccine, we’ve been blessed with the ability to return to in-person worship in the last month. Many thanks are owed to those folks who have made this possible, especially Judy Garnett and Frannie Kirkpatrick of the Altar Guild. I thank the congregation for their patience as we have worked towards this goal. I also thank everyone for being considerate of our fellow congregants’ health by wearing masks and respecting social distancing.
Yet, all this uprooting and replanting requires much from us as a congregation. As we return to what seems to be old, familiar, and comfortable ways, we cannot forget nor neglect this new outreach through our livestreaming service and online presence. We need to nurture and grow our digital evangelism, outreach, and Christian education alongside our traditional efforts, having both interact, support, and sustain each other. This is not easy work and requires all of us to renew our dedication to serving as God’s outreach into our community, whether real or virtual. Fortunately, as we were well reminded this Pentecost, we are strengthened by the Advocate sent for just this opportunity.
Again, thank you for your patience and support over the last 14 plus months as we have worked to solve the challenges we face. We are emerging from this with great potential for renewal and growth and I look forward to our journey together. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me, Pastor Ralph, or any member of council.
Trenton Hizer Council President 804-787-4564 (including text) firstname.lastname@example.org