Message from Your Moderators: Coming Through the Long Dark Night
It’s been a long dark night and I’ve been waiting for the morning,
It's been a long hard fight but I see a brand new day a dawning.
I've been looking for the sunshine ‘Cause I ain’t seen it in so long
But everything's gonna work out fine
And everything's gonna be all right, its going to be ok
(Written by Dolly Parton, performed by Conspirare)
This song, “Light of a Clear Blue Morning,” expresses what so many of us feel – that it’s been a long hard year, yet so many people pulled together at First Congregational to keep us going toward the new dawn ahead. As your lay moderator team, we wanted to share some observations and reflections on what we have seen, experienced and where we are now as a faith community.
First we want to acknowledge the fatigue, the anxiety and the loss that this year has brought. We all have friends and family (if not ourselves) in different kinds of crisis, and we're distracted with worry and questions and the ongoing disconnection and weirdness of not being able to see the people we love in our normal ways.
For our church staff and pastoral team, the normal way of responding to needs changed even as the needs themselves changed. Everything took longer with the steep technology learning curve, and simple power of informal communication replaced by the formality and sometimes disconnecting feel of time-consuming emails, texts, zoom. Then a health crisis left one called pastor to cover the work of two. Together, FCCB leadership and boards strategized how to best cover needs and which needs to prioritize. Finding guest pastors to deliver sermons during Lent allowed Sharon to focus on the coordination of Sunday Services, cover Davi’s responsibilities and be available for pastoral care. Though we cherished the power of our guest pastors, we all missed the gift of Sharon’s preaching and we are happy to say that she is back.
We are rejoicing in Pastor Davi's gradual return to work. We also rejoice that Pastor Davi has invited us to call them the name they hear God calling them -- "Davi.” It may take us a little getting used to, and that's OK -- this is part of how we learn and love and grow together as an Open & Affirming church that proclaims, “no matter who you are, you are welcome." It is such a tender gift to be welcomed into Davi's discernment of their identity and their calling as a person and pastor.
As Sharon returns to preaching and Pastor Davi returns gradually, we are so happy to welcome Stevi Hamill as our temporary and very-part-time Congregational Chaplain through the end of July. You may get a call from Stevi, as she'll be reaching out to make sure we're all getting the support and connection we need. During this time, we trusted the discernment of our Personnel Committee and pastoral team as to the needs they were seeing in the congregation, and we celebrate that they found someone with skills akin to a hospital chaplain. Someone who can find ways to quietly sit with us, and who stays even when we say we are fine.
Through the challenges and the changes of this past year and even the past few months, we want you to know that your church leadership, boards, and committees are working closely together to take care of our current needs and to plan and care for our future -- including paying attention to our staffing, getting the ceiling in the sanctuary fixed, building a major maintenance reserve, and securing the a second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan for $93,005.
And we wonder, “How are YOU? How is your family? Your partner? Parents? Kids?” We are so longing to see each other, to be physically present with each other, to share our pain and our celebrations -- to see each other's faces, hugs, handshakes, singing together.
Through it all, we know we're okay as a church body, because we are together in spirit, and God is with us.
We are held together with our prayers – please consider sending a prayer request on the virtual red folder during worship, or use the All in the Family link in the Friday email.
We are held together by reaching out to each other -- if you're thinking of someone, call them and tell them.
We are held together by appreciating each other. You’ll notice a new feature in our Wednesday and Friday communications called, “Short Shout-out. “ We invite you to share one or two sentences about anything you appreciated at First Congregational – a story time that made your kiddo giggle, a call you received from someone at church, anything…
We have hope -- it's Spring, more and more people are getting vaccinated, things will get better. We know that it is not as easy as flipping a switch to return to the way things were. It will take planning and coordination. It will take new levels of creativity and innovation. It will take new ways to connect.
We are grateful for our COVID Advisory Committee and their work in guiding our re-entry and in determining how to realize our priority of keeping the most vulnerable among us safe and healthy. If you missed the town hall with them April 11, please know that there will be more chances to connect, pose questions, and consider solutions. Together the congregation, leadership, the pastoral team and boards will work on the plan for return. We still don’t know when that will be. We just know we find joy in being a part of this amazing church, and know so much more joy is to come.
In the meantime, we welcome your thoughts, questions and ideas as we embrace the light of a clear blue morning.
'Cause I can see the light of a clear blue morning
I can see the light of a brand new day
I can see the light of a clear blue morning
Oh and everything's gonna be all right
It's gonna be okay
Peace and blessings to you,
Bill Henkel- Moderator
Caryl Dunavan- Past Moderator
Beth Tyne- Vice Moderator