Good morning, church!
I want to thank you first and foremost for your continued faithfulness during these times. Your faith and care for others is expressed every week as people drop off food for our local food bank and I get messages from Lisa, such as “Another truck 2/3 full!!! 👍🏻❤️” That was yesterday when we switched to Wednesday drives for the first time. It expresses itself in your willingness to send out cards and messages of encouragement to people. I am often the recipient of the appreciation notes, but it is really meant for you. Helen N. started her new cancer treatment yesterday and she wrote me this note earlier this morning: “I had my first treatment yesterday and things went as well as could be expected… Also, I have been overwhelmed and humbled by all the cards and prayers coming from my church family. I was hoping you might pass along my thanks to them.” Your continued faithfulness expresses itself in the willingness of so many to do something and our ability as a church to carry out meaningful ministry during these times. Yesterday, we launched our Prayer Ministry Group, meeting via Zoom for the first time. We have a starter group of eight people and it is always a joy for me to introduce folks to each other who have actually been part of the church for some time. The truth is we don’t all know each other and therefore you will see me featuring people from our congregation every week. It is my hope that we get to know one another BETTER, even as we are kept apart for a prolonged time!
This open-ended quarantine naturally encourages us to be creative and think outside of the box. We won’t be able to have a Vacation Bible School this year, that’s for sure. But families and parents with young children need help and relief more than ever. I know that because I have talked to a number of our parents and some of them are really getting stressed out. Day in and day out they work and tend to their children, without day care, without grandparents “taking them,” without their normal support system. So, starting on June 10, our Family Ministry will offer a once-a-week Children Hour with Mrs. Bodolus, and that will take place throughout the summer. It will be on Wednesday nights at 7:00 p.m. It is of course conducted via video conference (Zoom). It will be open to everyone. You can tell neighborhood parents about it. It may be a small way to give our parents some relief. Mrs. B. has been able to have well-attended youth group gatherings via zoom on Tuesday nights at 7:00 p.m. This works only because these kids have actually spent time together, have been in conformation together; some of them were in Puerto Rico together for our Mission Trip last year. It only works because she is reaching out to them on a continuous basis. Thank you, Jenn! That level of continued connection is not always the case in churches at this time, as you can imagine. We are lucky and I hope we can continue to engage our young people and maybe even have some outdoor activities for the older youths this summer. At least, that’s my hope.
In recent weeks we studied Paul’s letter to the Philippians, written from prison, which begins with these words: “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you…” (Phil 1:3) I can relate to that. I feel grateful for all of you in my prayers, seeing the level of care and support in our congregation. I pray for you from my five-star luxury prison at home, complete with pool table in the basement, which is now dry by the way and the hot water is running again too, thanks to the plumber who came yesterday. I have often wondered how Paul’s distance from his church families influenced his ministry, and it seems that in some cases it intensified the bond between them. I can see now why.
Our graduation students are all facing very interesting scenarios this June and you could say they will have an “UNFORGETTABLE” graduation, something that they can tell their children and grandchildren about, “the year we graduated virtually”. We would like to honor all of them on Sunday, June 14. That includes graduation from all kinds of schools: Elementary, Middle School, High School, College, Vocational School… Please send us pictures by May 31. That will give us plenty of time to make sure we really have EVERYONE’S Picture included in our tribute presentation. Please send them directly to Jennifer Bodolus (firstname.lastname@example.org) and copy in Lisa Miller (email@example.com).
Council and I are working on a plan for re-opening when that time comes. Expect a pastoral letter and copy of a church-plan for reopening. There are so many things to consider, it isn’t funny!!! You will get that letter (as if you hadn’t had enough letters from me already!) within the next two weeks, which will also include an invitation to a survey among our people with all kinds of questions that give us a better picture where you are, what you need and how ready or not ready you are to come to church again when the re-opening phase begins.
Today is the birthday of Bill R. He is only around 95 years young, something like that.
Happy birthday, Bill!
Be safe and be well! Pastor Andreas Wagner