Greetings my beloved church family! How I miss you all!
From Acts, chapter 2:
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
“They were all together in one place…” This Sunday we will celebrate once again the beloved Pentecost story, but that opening sentence cuts deep in our current reality. “They were all together in one place…” Oh, how we yearn to be gathered together in one place, our beloved sanctuary, for worship and fellowship—to sing beloved hymns and see beloved faces—friends and strangers alike. The response to our yearning—not yet, not for quite a while yet—hurts…cuts deep.
But in the midst of the ‘not yet,’ there is hopeful news. The small team of committee leaders has been meeting weekly to not only look at the slow return to in-person ministries, but to also consider what our new reality might be in the weeks, months and even years to come. This team consists of our lay leader Tigran Chatrchyan, Finance team leader and former lay leader Karen Kaufmann, Trustee chairperson Cynthia Lunine, and Arlene Hewitt, who worked for many years at the conference staff level in the United Methodist Church and has a wealth of knowledge and insight. Lynn Martin, the chairperson of Church Council, and Steve Beyers, chair of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, are included as much as possible given their busy work schedules. This team is preparing some materials for Church Council on our core values and guiding priorities as we seek to live into this time as “A Compassionate Community Led and Transformed by the Spirit,” our vision statement. These values and principles will help us mold our missions and ministries, and the working teams that will care for them.
This planning team is also preparing for small groups of 10 to come together in the near future. We are planning on small Holy Communion services in the sanctuary—with reservations to ensure we keep to the required number under Phase 1 in our state’s ‘restart’ plan. We will use prepacked elements for Communion to decrease risk and are in the final stages of developing the details for entering, exiting and being in the building to minimize any risk. Watch our twice-a-week email newsletters and next week’s State of the Church update for more details. Communion elements with worship cards will also be blessed in these services for home delivery or pick up for those not able to attend one of the small services. Gluten free elements are available.
I hope and pray that you continue to be diligent in wearing your masks in public and maintaining social distancing of six feet in all directions. Though we are tired of these precautions, the virus is tireless. This week Tompkins county had more confirmed cases, with at least 3 testing positive with no symptoms. One new case needed hospitalization. Though these numbers are low, they should remind us that it is our diligence in following safety measures that has contributed to these low numbers.
Before closing this week’s update, I do need to share some sad news. Our Children’s Ministry Coordinator, Delvin Collier, has stepped down from his staff position. Delvin made the important decision that he needed to prioritize his family needs and education obligations, and could not continue all that was demanding his time. Though we are sad to have him step down from his staff position, we completely understand this necessary decision, offer our heartfelt gratitude for all he has given to our beloved church home, and will continue to rejoice in his presence as a part of our church family.
I continue to hold you tightly in prayer each day, praying for not only your physical safety in the midst of this pandemic, but also for your spiritual and emotional well being.
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and the rains fall soft upon your field.
And until we can safely gather together again,
may God hold you tenderly in the palm of God’s hand. Amen.