"This is a novel age."
This quote comes from Pastor Michael Cousins at St. Paul AME in Chapel Hill. He shared it at one of our weekly Monday Morning Local Clergy Zoom Meetings (yep, that is our name until we think of something better). You have heard me share before that this group has been meeting weekly since week one of the pandemic shutdown. I can honestly say being a part of this group has been one of the most enriching experiences in my time as a pastor, and I can’t imagine going through this last year without it. Pastor Cousins shared this quote this week as we once again came together to discern the new guidelines by the CDC and how our communities of faith will respond.
For 14 months we have not only navigated a global pandemic together, but we also have processed together systemic racism, growing political polarization, and how we can serve the marginalized in our community. While some of these conversations are not new, Pastor Cousins shared this statement with us naming the reality we constantly feel navigating novel and new territory in our world and lives.
The season of Pentecost is the story of how the Holy Spirit empowered the Church, the followers of Jesus, to continue Jesus’ way of life and service in the world. It was not the end of the story but a new chapter in the grace and love of God working through the people of God. As we enter into the season of Pentecost, we are given the opportunity once more to ask and reflect how to BE the Church in the world.
We have some novel and new territory ahead of us.
It has been a long 14 months, but I’m so proud of our congregation.
While we had to learn new ways of doing worship and ministry our congregation never closed; we have made an impact beyond our walls and community in ways we could not have imagined or planned.
The Holy Spirit has been at work in our midst and yet we continue to respond to God’s call and understand there is still work to do. There is still so much to learn and re-learn in what it means to be a community of Jesus followers, and yet I have no doubt the Holy Spirit will do its thing once again in new ways.
As we enter into new phases of regathering together, please make sure you follow and pay attention to our weekly emails, our website and social media posts. This is the best way to follow what is happening as a community of faith and how you can be involved in an ever changing and evolving novel age.
We hope you can be a part of our Outdoor Worship experiences beginning May 23 and 30 in our Ministry Center parking lot (see image above but with you not cars).
We will continue to host Outdoor Worship experiences throughout the summer at 8:30 AM (except when we need to cancel due to weather), as well as continue our online live streaming worship each Sunday at 10:30 AM. Our hope is that we will enter our Phase 3 of regathering in August which includes in-person indoor worship, as well as opening our buildings and kitchens for fellowship and ministry groups.
We are still looking for teams and helpers to help us get our buildings ready for regathering.
If the number of COVID-19 infections continue to decline and vaccinations continue to rise, then we could possibly enter Phase 3 even sooner.
Come Holy Spirit!
In all this, we continue to ask you for your prayers and patience as with the rest of the world we continue to shift and pivot with the challenges that come at us on a weekly basis. We continue to ask daily how to be a good neighbor to those around us, how to be good stewards of the relationships and communities we are a part of, and how to protect those who are at risk in our society. For over a year, we have been praying for and thinking through how to re-gather safely and how we are called to be the Church in a post-pandemic world. Some of these questions are questions we have wrestled with before and yet some are novel and new, but I can’t wait to discern the answers with you face to face.
In this time of transition, I continue to ask all of you to be patient and grace-filled with one another. It will take some time for us to learn how to be a community together again and how to move through public spaces with one another. We have evolved and grown so much in so many ways over the last year, but we are still learning this novel world we collectively live in. So again, be easy on one another and our church staff as we re-learn, grow, pivot, shift, re-think, re-form, and rejoice in being with one another in person again. As Jesus shared in the Gospel of John, “they will know you are my followers by how you love one another.”
Thank you for your continued support, prayers, and partnership as we navigate this complicated, beautiful, and novel age together.
Come Holy Spirit!
Pastor Will Rose