Ministers Report July 2020

The worship theme for July is “Abolition,” which is a provocative and profound theme.With the combination of significant unemployment, a health crisis, and an uprising against police brutality…all on the cusp of a major election, we are living into the prospect of great change and revolution. All of this is beyond the grasp of anybody to adequately predict, but all of this relates very directly to the life of our church. Again, I am so inspired by the ways we have adapted together as a team over the last four months. Given this adaptation, and not knowing when it will be reasonable or safe to assume when we can welcome people back to church in person, board president Andy Crabb and I briefly discussed a subject that I would like to get all of your insight on: using this year to craft a satisfying and accessible online experience both for our members/friends, and visitors/curious onlookers. Right now we have created an online experience that is not too much of a departure in tone or content from our in person experience of worship. Similarly our online programming has been mirrored on what we have done in person, which has sometimes been successful, sometimes not. Who would’ve known that people are uncomfortable having others watch them eat on zoom, for our experimental dinner party? 🙂 We are continuing to learn.

It seems that about half of our goals from our board retreat are still applicable to the world and circumstances we find ourselves in. The goals that are still worth pursuing are updating our website, and making our content more accessible for first time users/visitors, as well as some of the smaller capital projects under $5,000.00, like paving the minister’s parking space by the church. It seems wise that the larger capital projects and effort put toward green sanctuary are on the back burner. I’m wondering, along with Andy Crabb, if it may be worth having a goal of creating an improved online experience as the focus of this upcoming year.This would probably require consultation to execute, but the vision of what we are after lies with us.

In terms of ministry that is ongoing there are some updates. Ellen and Lowell Satre as well as Melissa Smith were our delegates this year at General Assembly which took place at the end of June. I’m going to reach out to them to see if they would be able to share some of what they experienced, and what may be inspiring for our congregation to consider. The anti racism ministry facilitated by Gary Davenport is continuing to meet weekly every Saturday, as well as a book discussion that will begin Thursdays this month to discuss Robin DiAngelo’s book ​White Fragility​. Along with this ministry we have now given away 500 Black Lives Matter signs, and Louisa Berger has ordered 200 more. Due to the expense, this may be the last batch that we can offer unless we procure some alternative outside funding. A few of our members will betaking a half day course this month with the Racial Equity Institute on how race operates in our law, housing, and local policies. I’m hopeful this course will be a nice first step toward leadership development.

Linda Mohn has gathered a number of people to rethink what hospitality means in the time of Covid-19, and how we can come up with alternative ways of offering each other hospitality, checking in with folks, assisting in any way we can including making sure members can connect to our online programming and services. This is still in the beginning process, and Karen Lapidus, our Membership Coordinator is also assisting with this.

RE has started up again this summer with a weekly class on Sunday morning. I plan to have a conversation with Mystery this week, to see how this is going. If you know of any children who are in need of some engagement while they’re home, please direct them to Mystery.

On a personal note, I’m grateful for the time I had off this last week. Instead of taking time off all at once, I’m staggering it this summer, so I can get the rest and renewal I need while still being available to move things forward. The next week I’ll be off will be July 20-27. I’m also grateful for Louisa Berger and Sarah King for uploading my written sermons online. Soul Matters, the national organization that comes up with our worship themes every month, would like to publish a sermon I gave back in 2017 titled “Rupture and Renewal,” and share it as an inspiration to help congregations think differently about September’s upcoming theme of Renewal. So thank you for posting and keeping our archive updated.