Welcome to a new church year! I am very much looking forward to being together again, albeit virtually! I look forward to seeing your faces and hearing your voices and working together to build a stronger church community and a better world!
If I am quite honest, however, I must say I am looking forward to this year a mixture of excitement, trepidation, and grief.
On the one hand, as we begin this second year of interim ministry together, your Search Committee is hard at work, organizing, planning, and preparing. This fall they will be seeking input from you and pulling together a Congregational Record to be shared with interested ministers. And if all goes well, they will be able to present you with a fine candidate in the spring!
On the other hand, these are dangerous, tenuous times. We are facing what may be the most important national election in the history of this country. Our very Democracy feels in danger. The movement for Black Lives, and non-violent protests against police brutality continue in cities and towns across the country. And yet the ugly multi-headed hydra of White Supremacy, Misogyny, Transphobia, Colonialism… – it is hard to name all of the hydra’s heads! – continues to rage. And meanwhile, apocalyptic wildfires are burning in the west. And lives continue to be lost or damaged long-term by the COVID-19 virus as we await the arrival of a safe, proven vaccine and effective treatments for those who fall ill.
And of course, we move forward into this new year after the heavy loss this summer of Sue Kuder, an invaluable part of this community for so many years that it is hard to imagine it without her presence, her leadership, and her passion for social justice. I know many of us not only miss Sue, but are also actively grieving her death. And I continue to hold you all in my heart as you try to make sense of the coming year without her. May the memory of her life, her passion, and her commitments continue to inspire your own.
And thus, with a complex mix of feelings, forward into the new year, together we go! This year, once again, we’ve decided to approach worship and religious education programming thematically. In September, our theme will be “Renewal,” and during the rest of this month you’ll be invited to reflect, among other things, on what it means to…
• Renew our commitments to one another and to our church community
• Renew our commitments to social justice and democracy
• Renew ourselves – in body, mind, and spirit – to do the hard work that lies ahead
Future monthly themes are as follows:
October – Deep Listening
November – Healing
December – Stillness
January – Imagination
February – Beloved Community
March – Commitment
April – Becoming
May – Story
June – Play
A little bit about how we might stay connected this year, as we anticipate a year of virtual worship:
I will be continuing with the FPW Community Check-in opportunities twice each week. These are opportunities to drop in and meet with me and others in the congregation, either by phone or Zoom video-conferencing for an hour or so of informal conversation. All are welcome. These will be held most weeks at the following times:
Tuesday evenings from 7:30-8:30
Thursday afternoons from 3:00-4:00
A Zoom link and call-in information will be provided at the beginning of each week. Drop in when you can. Leave when you must.
I am also, of course, available by appointment at other times for individual meetings via phone or Zoom, so please be in touch if you’d like to schedule a time to talk.
In addition, this fall, while the weather holds, I am available to meet people one-on-one, in person, outside, weather-permitting, wearing masks, and appropriately distanced. My availability for these meetings will be limited and will most likely be on Tuesday afternoons or Friday afternoons, but other times may be possible, too, depending on the week. Please be in touch if you’d like to try to schedule a time to meet.
This year, I’m also planning to offer a series of Enrichment and Learning Forums via Zoom. I’ll be holding these once or twice a month, and the programming will be related in some way to the monthly theme. I will provide material to watch or read ahead of time (see links below descriptions), and then I will facilitate a conversation about the material for all who wish to participate. The first two Forums are as follows:
Wednesday, September 23, 7:00-8:30 – “The Refreshing Practice of Repentance”
“The High Holy Days create an annual ritual of repentance, both individual and collective. Louis Newman, who has explored repentance as an ethicist and a person in recovery, opens this up as a refreshing practice for every life, even beyond the lifetime of those to whom we would make amends.”
The 51-minute podcast and transcript can be found here.
Wednesday, October 14, 7:00-8:30 – “American Police”
“Black Americans being victimized and killed by the police is an epidemic. A truth many Americans are acknowledging since the murder of George Floyd, as protests have occurred in all fifty states calling for justice on his behalf. But this tension between African American communities and the police has existed for centuries. This week, the origins of American policing and how those origins put violent control of Black Americans at the heart of the system.”
Thematically, this topic is related to both renewing our commitments to justice and to October’s theme of “deep listening” to the experiences of others which may be different from our own. The 1-hour, 4-minute podcast and transcript can be found here.
Finally, in addition to weekly Community Check-in’s and periodic Enrichment and Learning Forums, I plan to help us stay connected by sending out brief emails each Wednesday, which will include a brief thought, or quote, and/or a link to a short inspirational video related in some way to the theme of the month. Look for them. Be inspired. Or simply ignore or delete.
Again, welcome to this new year. I am glad we will once again be together…
Peace to you and yours,