From the Pastor- July 2020

Pastor Rhodes

Dear friends,

As we set up for our “first” 9:27 service last week, we tried to create a feeling of warmth, comfort, welcome, and hominess. It’s easy to do in the Faith Center since there are no fixed seats, so we circled up the chairs (properly distanced), introduced lamps and comfortable seating, made sure the lighting had a warm glow. We were eager for folks to step into that space with a deep, satisfying sigh: “Ahh, this feels right.”

So many things just don’t feel right these days. As we work through critical issues like masks, social distancing, language, reentry, heightened sensitivities, and, yes, monuments, we find ourselves increasingly anxious, frustrated, and — I hate to admit this — judgmental.

Given all that, we knew that our worship space needed to be a non-anxious place. If physical space can look like a comfortable pullover, that’s what we were going for.

In these tumultuous times, we hope you’ll feel that way every time you log on or show up for worship at St. John’s .. because we want our hour (or 45 minutes) together to be your chance to step away from the anxieties of this world and enter into the joy of God’s presence.

A few things I’d like to bring to your attention

A vision for racial justice. You’ll notice throughout this newsletter that a lot of attention is given to the issue of race and racial justice. It’s a topic that’s dominating the headlines these days, although it’s an issue that has challenged societies since the beginning of time.

Several weeks ago, NAACP leader Gemale Black and Police Chief Jerry Stokes made an important observation: that our work in police reform and racial justice is a marathon, not a sprint. No doubt, there’s a lot of “sprint work” going on these days, the reactive work of folks who are eager to “do something.”

That’s certainly okay, and a lot of sprint work is necessary. But it’s “marathon work” that affects culture change.

With that in mind, what is our vision for racial justice? What is racial justice? We’ve asked Ted Goins, Evelyn Medina, and Caroline Parrott to facilitate a congregation-wide discussion about that very thing. We’ll draw from Scripture and listen to our collective stories and develop a vision that will help shape our path of ministry in the years to come. Look for more information in the coming weeks, prayerfully considering how you might be a part of shaping that vision.

This might take a while. You’ve heard the news: this pandemic might take a while to get under control. We’ve spent these last 12 weeks trying to get through it; now, we’re trying to envision what ministry looks like for the next 9-12 months as we continue to mask-up and be socially distant from one another.

We don’t have a complete answer yet, but rest assured a lot of thought and prayer is going into it. No doubt we’ll have a robust online presence for a good long time; we’ll continue to host virtual worship and discipleship opportunities, even as we introduce live options along the way. We’re also trying to figure out how to engage with one another creatively and meaningfully outside of Zoom. Nothing wrong with Zoom — it’s been a blessing! — but we’re thirsting for a more intimate, personal why to interact. I know you are, too.

Need to talk? I hope you’ll read page 1 of this Eagle’s View newsletter, because it introduces a new, highly important ministry at St. John’s. A growing number of people are struggling with loneliness, depression, grief, and other issues of mental health. If that’s you, please take advantage of this free but highly professional ministry. It’s especially designed for folks who have never been to a counselor but are finding that they need someone to talk to. Is that you? Let us know .. please.

Our very best to you. We miss seeing you face-to-face, but we’re still so thankful to be yoked as sisters and brothers.

+Rhodes

 

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