18 Aug From the Pastor’s Desk
August 18, 2020
It is a truism in any organization that it is impossible to communicate too much. That is the case under the best of circumstances, let alone when we haven’t been face-to-face in five months! Last week I shared the “behind the scenes” story of our current budget, and many of you have already responded with gracious and loving generosity. Thank you. Today I want to get you up-to-date on two additional topics that the Session discussed at our virtual August meeting: racial justice and in-person worship.
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing on May 25th and the protests that erupted around the world as a result, race relations, racial justice, and systemic racism have been topics of intense concern and interest to many people. The “big C” Church and Calvary, in particular, is pondering “what should our response be?” How do we express support for racial justice? How can we demonstrate our understanding that Jesus calls us to be peacemakers (and “good troublemakers”, as Rep. John Lewis put it), to be inclusive, to treat all people with love, respect, and dignity, recognizing their worth because they are created in the image of God? One idea has been to put a banner in the church yard. Then, of course, comes the question, what would such a banner say?
The Session had its first conversation about these issues in June. After time to reflect and pray, we returned to it in August. I have to tell you—I am so proud of your Elders. It was clear they had been thinking deeply about race relations and also about the varied backgrounds and perspectives that a church as diverse as Calvary brings to any topic. The Elders were in agreement that two things must guide us: our response must be grounded in Scripture and it must reflect all of us. I received the task of drafting a statement of our convictions as a church regarding racial justice and inclusion which the Session will discuss and amend at our September meeting. The goal is that such a statement will become part of our website, will be shared on our social media sites, and will then lead us to next steps—perhaps a banner, perhaps something else, perhaps “all the above.”
I share this information to tell you first, that Calvary has not forgotten about this issue or swept it under the rug. However, the Elders agreed that a banner, without a clearly articulated underlying foundation for why we are doing what we are doing, was insufficient. We are, unfortunately, severely hampered for the time being by our inability to meet together and listen to one another in person. Listening is, after all, a key component of informing any churchwide response. Thus, if you have input into this process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone currently serving on the Session: Gabriel Mayeden, Ann Honious, Vallerie Pringle, Dianne Hasbrouck, Erika Rissi, Rose Karikari, Andy Clay, and John Kerr (Elder Travis Obenhuber was deployed this month to Kuwait). Parish Associate Gene Kendall and I are also available for feedback and conversation.
Speaking of listening to one another in person, allow me to briefly address the current status of worship. Each month on the Session Agenda, Clerk John Kerr lists “COVID-19” as one of our items. (In his Clerk’s Report he also lists the number of Sundays we’ve now been doing virtual worship which I find totally depressing!! But I digress….) Each month I ask, “what do we need to discuss related to the coronavirus and worship?” At the August meeting, the only response I got was radio silence—and a few heads shaking back and forth. Translation: there is nothing to discuss because we are not yet able to come back to the sanctuary safely.
We have taken the approach that we will revisit this question every month. One of these days, that one item will constitute the bulk of our discussion, and we will be overjoyed as we plan a return to in-person worship. But we are not there yet. As we continue to discern the path forward through these uncharted waters, I ask you to pray for your elders. They are fine men and women of faith, and we are indeed blessed that they have been called to the Session “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:15).
Yours for the Kingdom,