The past four and a half months, since we began to practice physical distancing and moved the church’s ministry to virtual connections, have been nothing like normal. The losses and anxiety of the pandemic have rippled through all aspects of our lives, altering our Lent and Easter seasons and creating a strange summer experience.
In New England, summer is typically a time for adventure, growth, and restoration. In the seasonal life of the church, summer is normally a quieter time, when we take a break from weekly newsletters, monthly board meetings, and frequent staff meetings, allowing time for rest and the kind of reflective planning and preparation needed for the new program year in the fall. This year, the unprecedented challenges we are living through have called for the continuation and adaptations of our weekly routines. I am grateful for the work of our congregational leaders and church staff members who have innovated in ways to sustain congregational connection and ministry in new ways. I also know that we need some space to step back. We need time that has the quality of Sabbath.
Over the next two weeks, July 26 through August 9, I have called for the church staff to take a break from weekly routines. We will still have (virtual) Sunday worship services and (virtual) Community Hour, and you will always be able to reach a minister for pastoral care. But we will observe a two-week break from the regular newsletter and email updates, from the noontime prayers during the week, and from our usual staff meetings. Some staff members will be on complete vacation leave, and others will be engaged in focused projects, so please keep this in mind as you are reaching out to us in the next two weeks.
The next newsletter from the church will be emailed on August 13 (submissions should be received by August 7). Until then, Sunday worship will continue to be the heartbeat of our congregation, and I trust that God holds us in communion.