President’s Perspective – Comfort

by Rebecca Graves, 2020-21 President

Since I last wrote, our COVID-19 Advisory Task Force (Jan Swaney, Rosie Geiser, Susan Even, Barbara Carter, and Larry Lile) has begun meeting and has presented its first report to the board. Their current recommendation is that small groups should not yet meet inside the building, though they are welcome to meet outside on the church grounds.

In light of the task force’s report and the coming of the cold months, the board discussed the hosting of Room at the Inn. We considered both the health and safety for our staff as well as that of the guests of Room at the Inn, and also considered our mission and values. What is our highest calling to serve both our congregation and our community? What does compassion and care look like in a pandemic? We did not come to any decisions yet as there are still many questions about this. We are waiting for more information from Room at the Inn regarding their safety and health procedures. We need to have conversations with our staff as well as all of us in our congregation. And, we will need to have a conversation with our neighbors.

The board held its annual retreat on Saturday, Sept. 19. For the morning session, we met in person in the Memorial Garden. Even sitting 6 feet apart and masked, it was joy to be physically together. We deepened our connection through worship and discussion on how we communicate, and we shared more of our personal history (including the state trees of our birthplaces.)

It was comforting to be back on church grounds. The Grounds Team has done wonderful work. I strongly encourage you, if you are able, to take some time to enjoy the outdoor space around the church. There are chairs as well as picnic tables set up in different areas. So come for mediation, for lunch, for a walk, or just for a pause.

I also want to give a shout-out to Suzanne Clark, our church administrator, who organized our retreat lunch and brought it to us. We each help each other to get the work done. And, keeping the administrative work of the church going is no small thing. Thank you, Suzanne!

For the afternoon session of the retreat, the board reconvened online and discussed our mission and vision and the impact of the pandemic on the work of the church. We talked at length about what has changed and not, what needs the church is meeting for us, and how. A theme that came out of our discussions is that a major role of the church is to hold each of us, to help us take care of ourselves, to allow us to connect on an emotional level. We agreed that this is harder to do with the distance and separation required by this pandemic. This is work we will be doing as a board over the next months – assessing how our ministries and work enables us to be connected and held. I am reaching out to you in this column – let us know your thoughts and how you are faring in these times.

I’ll end with words from the Rev. Karen Hering:

“In the uncertainties of this time of both pandemic and uprising, we are all asked to join a journey on unfamiliar paths toward unknown destinations. Not only it is a journey that can only be taken a day at a time. It is also a journey that cannot be taken alone.”