As I write this article, it seems like not much has changed from last week – confirmed cases of COVID 19 continue to rise in Texas, as well as the number of deaths from COVID 19. Protests and riots continue to take place in communities across our nation. And we continue to stay isolated and distanced from one another.
Regathering for Worship: As I described the decision last week to keep the church building closed for gatherings through the end of August, I mentioned guidelines the Session reviewed from our denomination; that document, Coming Back Together as a Congregation: Guidelines From the Offices of the General Presbyter and Stated Clerk of Mission Presbytery, can be found by clicking on the title above. It has some good information and may give you a better sense of what is guiding us as we consider regathering and making plans to do so when the time is right. I have also been monitoring the plans of other PCUSA congregations in the Austin/Central Texas area as they make decisions to regather. To date, none of the PCUSA congregations in our area have plans to regather prior to July or August.
Our National Crisis: As I watch the news reports and hear the stories coming from the protests and the surrounding conflicts in our nation over systemic racism, I wonder what we need to learn or hear or do as a congregation to address the persistence of racismin our communities. I don’t yet have answers, but I hope that you are doing your best to be open to listening to perspectives that seem threatening or scary or hurtful; there is truth in all of them. In your personal prayer time, ask God to give you a heart and mind to be open to learn and grow and change, and ask for compassion for all who are speaking out from a place of deep hurt and anger. I am reviewing some resources for learning and discussion, and I hope to have suggestions for all of us soon, especially as we come together again.
Our Life Together, while Apart: Next week, I will write a bit about the Session’s plan for touching base with each and every person who is part of our fellowship. Session members want to hear from you. They want to know how you are faring in all of this, how you have weathered the sequestration, what concerns are in the forefront for you in the months ahead, and what hopes and dreams you have for our congregation in the next year or two or five. I would ask that you pray and reflect on these questions, and be ready to discuss them when the time comes.