Pastor's Message continued
Jason Rutherford

I hope that you are healthy, happy, and able to find moments that are sacred and holy. Following the governor's directive to allow houses of worship to resume modified gatherings under Massachusetts safety standards during this COVID-19 crisis, the church leadership has met to consider ways to bring us back together this summer. Although we do not have a specific date in mind, we have a self-imposed deadline of June 30 to make the decision on when to resume worship in the building. For now, our online worship services and board meetings will continue as the Deacons, Board of Administration and Finance, and Executive Council determine safety measures. These include spacing people within the building, safely practicing rituals and liturgy, and coordinating the use of technology to allow for online access to worship for those of us not ready to gather in a physical space. Current safety precautions mean that we will have no Sunday School or food service. Church leadership is taking the safety mandates and recommendations seriously, and working step by step to progress toward in-person gatherings. Also, the leaders are taking this a season at a time, summer for now, and will later look at fall and winter activities. Online access to church is here to stay. Nonetheless, we are a community, and it is important to begin thinking about how to join together again, and engage in what our faith is compelling us to share.

If ever the statement "time will tell" is relevant, it is now. So much of being in a time of crisis is working to understand what is happening, how it is changing us, and what we need to do in response. Our response to this unusual situation includes multiple levels of process: social, emotional, spiritual, and physical. If you are beginning to feel the effect of shock in your life, you are definitely not alone. Having acknowledged this reality, we also see it as an opportune time to pray and receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the true gift of God in our life, and I encourage us to join together however we can to allow for this as a community. Our growth during this time will be not in isolating, but in finding ways to share how we are experiencing these days and, how we are evolving spiritually, emotionally, and socially. We also trust that our creator wants us to be healthy, even desiring for us to be gathered in a holy space and time.

In the coming days and weeks, the following will take place: The Deacons (responsible for leading the worship practice of the congregation) will be meeting with the Board of Administration and Finance (responsible for the building use) and together meeting with the Executive Council (made up of officers, board chairs, and elected at-large members) to make decisions. To effectively make the best ones, they need input from the larger congregation. So, please take a moment to consider and respond to these three questions and email me.
(1) When would you be willing to consider attending worship in the building? Does August seem reasonable?
(2) Are you willing to assist and/or cooperate with the Deacons and other church leaders in complying with protocols put in place for the good of all of us?
(3) What suggestions or ideas come to my mind to promote continued spiritual encouragement through prayer, Bible readings/study, and fellowship?

Thank you for mailing your tithes and offerings to the church these past few months. Bills continue to arrive and need to be paid, and continued financial giving is vital at this time. Also, if you or someone you know is struggling financially, please contact me or one of the Deacons when possible. Finally, remember that one of the gifts of our faith is resiliency. It may be that the coming days will be different, but because of the spirit within us they can be meaningful and they can be fulfilling.

Jason

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