This past week was an amazing week in the life of the church. While we usually slow down for the summer, we are ramping up!!
On Mondays, Irene Schmidbauer has been leading a group to study the book, Changing Our Mind by David Gushee, which comes to an accepting and affirming place in the study of the biblical passages regarding same sex marriage. While people who are progressive compatabalists on this issue have come to this affirming place, we also want to be a church for conservative compatabalists, who love and accept our LGBTQ siblings, but are not at the place of affirming same sex marriage. The big, broad, place in the center, where we can all agree, is that we are thrilled to have people coming to our church and want everyone to grow in their love of Christ. There is agreement that the diversity of people makes our community richer. We learn to love more fully when we are in community with people who are LGBTQ, people of color, and people who are of different political parties. Part of our work together is to develop a genuine curiosity about others and learning from them, instead of thinking of people as issues or feeling like we have to be in silos or echo chambers of people who are exactly like us.
On Tuesday, I participated in a luncheon sponsored by Advent Health, to learn more about addiction and how communities of faith can support people in recovery. We are very happy to have a women's AA group meeting in our church on Thursday evenings at 6. This program is a lifeline for people who take life one day at a time and thrive on the support from one another as they surrender to a higher power. I hope we can find ways to be more supportive of people who are in recovery.
Tuesday night we held our Administrative Council meeting via Zoom. Our main topic of conversation was sharing new information we have learned as we continue to process the pathways for financial stability as a church. We will hold a congregational meeting on August 14 to get input from the church as we develop a plan to move forward. We also talked about the mission fairs that will occur each week after worship in August, giving our congregation the opportunity to become more deeply involved in serving.
Wednesday, the Spirituality of Loss class continued with Rev. Matt Kern. As a provisional deacon, Matt is working on his ordination paperwork for Full Connection. He will submit this on October 1 and will likely write about what he is learning from leading this small group along with many other reflections on his ministry as a hospice chaplain. Matt will lead another small group next month to go along with our theme of Serving. If you have not had the opportunity to get to know Matt, think about being part of his next study. He is a great guy and people of our church have already bonded with him.
Thursday, we continued the Food Triggers small group, which is helping us to be more mindful of the ways we expect food to be a remedy for boredom and stress, instead of thinking about the best way to fuel our bodies. After that our Nominations Team met to discuss the leadership positions that will be open next year. Wow, what a great team. We nominated people for every position. Now, they just have to say "yes!"
Friday, we celebrated the life of Joan Ray. Her husband Roy and many members of the family shared about her life and work. They were married for 59 years. On their 57th anniversary, Roy was not able to enter the facility where Joan had been staying, so he sat outside of her window. There was a picture of the two of them with their hands pressed together against the window with Roy outside and Joan inside. It was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful life.
Saturday, I attended a preparation to lead as part of the Walk to Emmaus in Clearwater. We had a wonderful day together where we prayed, celebrated holy communion, sang songs, made plans, and got to know each other. I look forward to getting to know all of these dedicated disciples better and to serving with them. I strongly encourage you to sign up for the Walk to Emmaus. The men's weekend is October 13 - 16 and the women's walk is October 20 - 23. It is a spiritual weekend where you will grow deeper as a disciple of Jesus.
Sunday was a wonderful day of worship followed by a meeting for potential new members. We are hoping to welcome 5 people into membership on Sunday.
Sunday afternoon, I visited with Edda Woodbury in the hospital. What an amazing woman she is. Her husband Chuck passed away about a year ago and she is thinking about how God is calling her to serve. She is always a joy to be around, even when she is lying in a hospital bed.
I was happy to hear that Jeannette DiLuzio was okay after falling during the worship service. Bob took her to the emergency room and after several hours, she was able to go home.
Our youth had a great time at their movie night, Sunday evening. While it is a young youth group, they are developing a strong bond and I am excited about watching them grow in their faith. Kathryn Halterman continues to plan amazing things for our families.
This week, we are keeping our Caralyn Moore in our prayers as she gets through her last week before maternity leave. She will likely have the baby next Monday if not before.
I also just want to express my gratitude for this church and community. I love serving this church and truly love the people here.