Newsletter – August 2021
Greetings from the desk of the Pastor! I always find myself around this time of year, reflecting on the year gone by. It might seem a little strange, seeing as July/August is right in the middle of the year – but in the Methodist tradition, Pastor’s usually begin a new appointment in July. So, last month marks the end of my third year and the beginning of my fourth year in ministry at this church.
As I look back, I am once again baffled by the crazy year we have had. Two things stick out – (1) how hard is has been, and (2) how well we have done. First – let’s not ignore the obvious: This past year was HARD! We closed our building, and when we reopened we had mask requirements and pews that were roped off. Limited capacity and even different pieces of worship were missing. We haven’t had a children’s time in over a year, Sunday school has had to be completely digital, and it was a struggle to even have communion. We lost friends and family to COVID and other ailments. We went through an incredibly angry political election, and saw many important events get cancelled or postponed. This past year was abundantly, impossibly difficult.
But the other piece that sticks out to me about this last year is how well you all have done! In the face of struggle, time and time again we have overcome. We found new ways to celebrate and fellowship. When we couldn’t be together physically, we found new ways to connect. We sent cards, and made phone calls – we drove by in parades and held bible studies outdoors in the summer. We dramatically increased our recording and livestreaming abilities. We showed the world that we are able to put aside partisan politics to sit next to one another and focus on Jesus in worship. We found creative ways to host men’s group (like building a boat!), and do Sunday school take home boxes. Our giving and attendance actually increased slightly in the last year, and so we dreamed big dreams and launched a whole capital campaign! We found ways to bring communion into people’s homes, and most importantly – we never, ever gave up. It was a monumentally difficult year, but we have done so well! I am very proud of you all, and because of your steadfast faithfulness both to God and to this church – I have every confidence that our church will be able to handle the hard work of rebuilding that has to happen as we move into the future.
And so as we prepare for another year – I’d like to introduce our new vision statement for the 2021-2022 year. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, COVID-19 forced a season of pruning on us all. And while it can be so hard to see what is cut – it can be so helpful to find out what is essential in the life of a church. One thing COVID did for all of us, was help us redefine what it means to do church, to redefine what it means to be a church. It became very clear as we drew together in the difficult season – that the church is not a building, the church is not a program, the church is not even an overly-energetic pastor. You are the church. Each of you, and the connections you make. The way you love, the way you embody God’s love to one another and to the world. You are the church. I realized that this is what we need to keep our focus on as we rebuild in the upcoming year. Our vision statement for the next year is “We are the Church.”
As we reopen our church, and as we slowly watch people return to weekly worship – I have a challenge for all of you. Despite all our outreach efforts, I know there are some people who are feeling forgotten by the church. And there is so much power in a personal invitation! To give someone a call, let them know they are welcome and you’d love to sit by them. If you know of someone who hasn’t been to church in a long time, whether they are a familiar face, or a brand new friend – please take a moment this month, and reach out to them. We are the church – and there is so much strength when we work together! Send them the livestream link, or save them a seat. We will rebuild together – because WE ARE THE CHURCH. I’ll see you on Sunday.