Questions to Ponder

Dear Friends,
 
In my sermon on March 7th, I quoted an article by Karl Vaters titled “Will the Congregation Come Back?” Should Not Be Our Biggest Concern (6 Better Questions). The first three questions Vaters proposes are:
 
1. Have we represented Jesus well during the lockdown?

2. Are we representing Jesus well as we come out of the lockdown?

3. What have we learned – and what are we still learning?
 
I encouraged the congregation to ponder these over the next week. In fact, Session met that night and responded to these.

For those of you who are curious about the other three questions…here they are!
 
4. How can we better serve the people at home?

5. How well are we serving our online church members and visitors?

6. How are people hurting, and what can we do to help them?

Vaters ends his article by saying “How we honor Jesus by reaching the hurting people outside our doors is what matters. Ministry needs to happen from the church, not just in the church.”

We are grateful for the many ways our congregation has been able to keep reaching out, in spite of the restrictions the pandemic has put before us. Even though we haven’t been able to worship in person, there has still been a strong sense of community. Your Session and care ministry teams have been doing their best to connect with you regularly over the months. The food collections continue in the lobby to provide nourishment for our hungry neighbors. Technology has enabled not only the congregation to worship, but people from all over the country! Who knows how many lives have been touched through your ministry this past year? Thanks be to God!
 
In the special Session meeting on Sunday night, we discussed when we might begin to reopen the sanctuary for in-person worship. This was a long and thoughtful discussion, and it was clear that we were not all of one mind. Concerns for people’s health and safety remain a priority. Not everyone has been vaccinated yet. We don’t know about the various strains of COVID-19 and what the long-term effects of exposure will be. Is it right to open if not everyone can be together? Is it best to open if worship will be so altered? And yet, there are many who feel ready to be back together, many who are longing for “God’s courts of praise.”
 
The Session did make a decision, as seen in the Clerk’s report elsewhere in The ACTION. We will (weather-willing) hold our Palm Sunday and Easter services outside so everyone who wants to attend may do so. You’ll need to dress for the weather and bring your own chairs as you did last fall. Then, beginning April 11th, we will offer indoor worship with a limited number of attendees. The service will continue to be livestreamed. In the last March ACTION (next edition), we will remind you of the protocols and how to make a reservation for indoor worship.
 
I hope you will offer thanks to your Session members for serving so faithfully in such a time as this. They certainly have lived into their ordination vows to pray for the people and serve with energy, intelligence, imagination and love!
 
Grace and peace to you,
 
Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer,
Transitional Pastor