Pastor’s Thoughts for August 2020

We are already into the month of August! Can you believe it? We are almost five months into what I call “the COVID season.”  When the coronavirus took hold in our country back in early March, we had no idea how long we would need to be in quarantine and when we might be able to return to our church facilities for “normal” worship, fellowship, education, and outreach. The truth is, we still don’t know.

Rev. Nancy Mikoski

Rev. Nancy Miskoski, Pastor

One thing I do know for sure is that the church did not close down because we had to leave our building. Our ministries have continued. Just think of it:

*We have provided worship each and every Sunday! It has been made available virtually, by phone-in, and mailed out to a number of our people. A huge thanks goes to our staff, especially Megan Coiley, who knits together all the parts of worship for us, and to all the liturgists and musicians who have added their gifts that help us worship safely from home.

*Adult faith formation has continued! The Bible and Theology Class finished one topic and then did a book study on tragedy, suffering, and God’s grace. The Shalom Women’s Bible Study usually takes the summers off but this year they continued to meet, with an exciting and new series. Their Zoom format even allowed some members who have moved away to “rejoin” the group. 

*The Membership and Communication Committee created wonderful Forums and Fellowship events on Friday nights using Zoom. These events included check in and fellowship, a featured speaker, and thoughtful discussion and prayer. Great job, team! Two groups formed in early July to engage issues related to racism using Eddie Moore Jr.’s “21 Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge.” The groups have been energized by having great resources to read and watch and a safe group to explore what can be a very difficult topic for many. Thanks to all for your commitment to growing in our love of neighbors.

*Our children and their families were provided resources each week to use as a home church school experience in the spring. Phil McMillan provided music for the kids that both nurtured their faith and provided enjoyment. At the end of June, several of our families participated in a Virtual Vacation Bible School offered the community by Nassau Presbyterian. We had some Zoom check-in times to share this VVBS experience. A group of parents spearheaded a children’s book drive for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen as well as a book club with a weekly rotation sharing books about inclusion and justice. This month they have planned a wonderful scavenger hunt of local activities to share. Thanks to all the folks from the Christian Education Committee and this Family Ministry group for inspired leadership with our young ones!

*Our middle and high school youth continued with weekly church school using the Zoom platform through the end of May. Their teachers did a great job pivoting from in-person to a virtual format, creating engaging lessons as well as weekly time to share highs and lows. Youth groups met, too, sharing laughter and games together. In June, we welcomed our new part-time Pastor for Youth Ministry, Casey Aldridge. He is off and running, getting to know the youth and adult leaders, and creating weekly on-line spaces for them to talk about popular culture and how it relates to the Bible and Christian theology. Thanks to all of our staff and volunteers and youth for being part of these faith-building experiences. 

*We continue to care about our church family and those in the community. Some donors created a special fund to help ease the financial burden of a few in our church family who are financially challenged because of COVID-19. We continue to collect diapers for Homefront. Some folks are making donations to Arm in Arm directly since we can’t fill the red wagons with food donations. Some are contributing to the Hopewell Valley Mobile Food Pantry. Others are contributing special gifts for our Living Waters for the World partner communities in the Yucatan that have been hit hard with coronavirus health and financial problems. We are now collecting face masks to donate to Westminster Presbyterian Church in Trenton who will distribute them within their community. 

*While all of this is going on, teams of people are working on preparations for re-opening the building for ministry when it is safe. Just recently the Session approved a motion to allow church groups to sign up and use our lawn space for outdoor-only gatherings, keeping social distance for everyone’s safety. Priorities for re-opening have been set (worship and the nursery school being priority one), protocols have been established, and important equipment for cleaning has been ordered. We are working closely with Hope Anderson and the Nursery School with the intention of being able to continue offering excellent early childhood education. Another team is working on redoing our website to make it work better on cell phones and to keep it current and attractive. A technology team is working to determine what new equipment we will need in the sanctuary in order to provide a “hybrid” worship service each Sunday which would include both a limited number of people worshipping in our pews as well as the service being live streamed and available to those who want or need to worship virtually from home. Thank you to all who are giving your time, energy, and expertise to help us move forward creatively, safely, and faithfully!

*And I would be remiss if I failed to mention all of the ways we as a church family are caring for each other. Thank you for making phone calls, running errands, sending cards, and praying for each other. God’s love and grace is flowing in and through these connecting points!

All of our boards, committees, and groups are looking to the future and listening to what the Spirit is teaching us as we make our way through this pandemic. As new information is available we will share it with you. In the meantime, please do all you can as individuals to help prevent the spread of this virus. This is how we show our love! The good news of Jesus Christ gives us hope and purpose each day. Thanks be to God!
 

In Christ,
Nancy Mikoski