As the year draws to a close, I am thankful for the ways in which your church staff provides care for all of us, and especially the ways in which they have kept us connected and engaged over these long months of the COVID pandemic.
When the pandemic shut the doors of our church building, rather than reducing the amount of work for our church office, the work load increased significantly! Debi continued doing all of the things that she was doing before, but added extra layers of communication and technology to every step! Like the rest of us, she had to learn about Zoom calls and embedding videos in e-newsletters and online giving platforms, all while working remotely. She had to support a staff (me) that was operating with a heavier load of anxiety than usual. She learned how to get all of the Women’s Bible Study participants onto a weekly Zoom gathering, and coached many of them through it by phone. And she has done it all without hesitation or complaint.
When we hired Esme Gomez to be our part-time project coordinator in Hudson Bend, we didn’t have any idea that this pandemic would last as long as it has, and we certainly didn’t imagine the hours that Esme would spend helping residents obtain much-needed food assistance. We never anticipated that she would be helping residents apply for RISE funds from the City of Austin to pay for rent and utility assistance. And she has stepped up to these tasks with joy and hope.
And thank goodness for Austin Bradley, our Music Coordinator! He came on board in May, just as we were exploring ways to record and broadcast the worship service from the sanctuary. His musical talent is uplifting and inspiring, and his ability to assist others so they can participate is seamless. Austin Bradley is one of the primary reasons our worship service each week helps us feel like we are still able to worship ‘in our church’!
As your pastor, I certainly never anticipated that I would need to learn how to lead a congregation, and conduct worship and Session meetings, and committee meetings, and engage in pastoral care, using primarily social media and internet connectivity and websites and the telephone! Nothing in the last 30 years of ministry is akin to what pastors have had to figure out ‘on the fly’ in these last nine months. Thank you for your grace and patience as I have stumbled through it all, making the best out of a difficult situation.
And, of course, all of YOU who have had to learn new ways of being church together and all of the volunteers who have helped make church happen in this new world, THANK YOU!
For any church, the largest part of the annual budget is personnel/staff. As we build the church’s budget for 2021, the Session looks to YOU to support our church staff as we all try to be faithful together, engaging in mission and ministry in ways we are just now exploring. I’m sure the future will continue to bring us challenges. Please consider prayerfully your financial commitment to the PCLT Budget for 2021.