Pastor’s BLOG

Time in the Wilderness

Dear Friends,
 
Grace and peace to you! I am delighted to be here and look forward to getting to know you better over the coming weeks and months. I have appreciated the notes, emails and gifts you have offered me as a sign of welcome and partnership in ministry. It was a bit of a disappointment not to worship outside and in person on my first Sunday here due to the weather, but I am grateful for a strong technology team that allows us to gather as part of that great iCloud of Witnesses!
 
Sunday’s Old Testament Scripture was about the Israelites’ time in the wilderness. With the departure of your pastor in the spring and this long season of Covid-19, I imagine this interim time might feel a bit wild and desert-like for some of you. A rabbi colleague and friend once told me that the wilderness journey was a way for God to draw the people out of their routines, out of their burdens and labor into a special time to worship and reconnect with God. In fact, when Moses first went to Pharaoh to ask him to “let God’s people go,” it was initially for a short time to worship God. Eventually, of course, it turned into the full exodus from slavery in Egypt to freedom as God’s people; but originally, the wilderness was to be a gift for the people to commune with God and offer their worship and praise.
 
I wonder if we might be able to shift expectations of “wilderness/interim time” to a holy season in which we experience God’s providence to us as individuals and as a congregation and grow deeper in our relationship with our Triune God–Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. What might that look like to you? I hope as we journey together we will name those places where we see the Holy Spirit at work and explore how God is shaping us for ministry in this time and place.
 
May God bless you with joy and hope,
Pastor Nancy
 


A Letter from Our New Transitional Pastor

Dear Friends,
 
I greet you with joy in my heart. Thank you for inviting me to come and work alongside you. The “Time between Pastors” is a holy season for the church. While it might feel long and uncertain, it is also an opportunity for the congregation to reflect upon who God is calling First Pres to be in this time and context. I appreciate transitional ministry because it frees folks up to be curious, questioning, evaluative and experimental. We can explore our heritage: holding on tight to that which is good and faithful and letting go of those things that no longer fit well. We are offered the gift of delving more deeply into what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and renewing our commitment as the church of Jesus Christ.
 
COVID-19 certainly has wreaked some havoc on the traditional ways of ministry; however, we we are not barred from the work of ministry—that of praising and worshiping God, welcoming, praying and caring for each other as siblings in Jesus’ family, and sharing the good news of the gospel in word and deed with our corner of the world and beyond. We may still do all of this with energy, intelligence, imagination and love.
 
I can’t wait to hear how the Holy Spirit has been moving through you and your congregation. I look forward to visiting with you (properly distanced!), listening to your stories, frustrations, and hopes, and helping your church discern the direction God is leading you next as you prepare for your new pastor.
 
May God bless you and our ministry together!
 
Grace and peace,

Pastor Nancy
Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer
Transitional Pastor


Final Words

Well, I can’t believe it, but this is my last pastor’s column to our congregation.
 
We have had a wonderful journey together for these last 14 ½ years. I have loved being your pastor, and I consider each of you my friend and partner in ministry. It has been such a privilege to be a part of your lives and to be invited into the best and most challenging times of your lives.
 
Truly it is hard for me to wrap my head around not being the pastor of First Presbyterian in Lexington. It has become so much a part of my identity, and I have so enjoyed traveling with you as we have grown in our faith and worked beside each other sharing Christ’s ministry.
 
I have complete trust in what God is doing calling me and this congregation to something new, but at the same time, there is grief that goes along with this new chapter in our lives. It is a loss for both of us – me leaving a people I deeply care about and you losing a pastor you have loved. It is important to acknowledge the grief so that you can be ready to embrace the new thing that God is going to do with you. Of course, part of the challenge of acknowledging the grief at this particular moment in time is that we can’t say our good byes in person. We will remedy this as soon as it is safe to do so with a celebration planned by the transition team. In the mean time, hold on to the blessing of the memories of our time together.
 
One of the difficult aspects of leaving a pastoral relationship is that I am no longer in the role of pastor. This means that I must back out of pastoral activities. I will not be able to visit you in the hospital, provide pastoral care, lead funerals, give my advice on church matters, and other pastoral things. This will be hard to get used to for you and me. Please know that it is not personal. Not only is this required by the Presbytery, it is very important for the health of the church for me to have no pastoral influence or input so that your new transitional pastor and eventual installed pastor can develop pastoral relationships with you.
 
At the same time, when life returns to normal, and you see me out in Lexington, you don’t have to avoid me or my family. You can say hi, ask how we are doing, or give us a hug! We just have to be intentional to not talk about what is going on at the church.
 
Once again let me say how blessed I have been to be here with you. Thank you for allowing me to be your pastor for all these years. I will be praying for you and trusting God to continue to do great things with you.
 
Grace and peace to you.
Your friend and (for the last time) pastor,
Pastor Lee


Come On and Zoom, Zoom, Zooma, Zoom!

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ!
 
So much has happened in the two weeks since our last printed newsletter. Our lives have been upended, our sports have been cancelled, we have stopped having church in person, and we can’t find toilet paper!
 
sThe Session met online on March 22nd and made the difficult decision to continue the suspension of church activities through April 5th. All members felt strongly that this was the right thing to do to safeguard the health of our church family.
 
We all are missing one another! Yet we are finding creative ways to be together while we are apart! One of the programs that we have been using here at the church is Zoom. Zoom is a video conferencing program that can be run on a computer or a smart phone. It allows us to meet together, to see each other, and to talk just like we are in a room together.
 
If you have a computer or smart phone, I would encourage you to download the application and install it. This will allow you to participate in whatever online gatherings we might have including Sunday school.
 

Or you could go to the website: https://zoom.us.
 
Now I know that some of you might not have either a computer or a smart phone, but there is a way you can still participate over a regular phone.
The access number is 646-558-8656.
  • Once you call this access number, you will be prompted for a “Meeting ID followed by the # sign.” You then put in the 9 digit Meeting ID number with the #sign.
  • Each “meeting” has a different Meeting ID number.
  • You will be asked for a participant ID followed by the # sign. Just press #. We do not use this function.
  • You will be asked to say your name followed by the #sign. Once you hit the # sign you will be added to the meeting
I will be streaming the worship service on Sunday at 11 a.m. over a Zoom meeting for those who do not have computers or smart phones. All you have to do is follow the above directions and use the meeting id: 295 249 020. Once you have joined, you will be able to hear the audio from the worship service.
 
If you do have a smart phone or computer, please go to the church website to watch the service through the YouTube video link.
 
Here are the upcoming meetings and their ID numbers:
  • Men’s Breakfast Devotional on Tuesdays at 7:30 a.m. 131- 411- 249
  • Sunday School on Sundays at 10 a.m. 872-552-958
  • Sunday Worship Audio Feed at 11 a.m. on Sundays 295-249-020
My friends, God is with us and will get us through this difficult time. God is our rock, our shield, and our deliverer. Let us commit ourselves to reaching out to those around us through phone calls and cards, and let us pray fervently for each other, our church, our community, our nation, and our world.
 
Grace and peace to you,
 
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee