I began to write to you on the 11th day of this new year still without sunshine. Today, the sun is out and the ice that has captured our landscape is melting/falling away. And, today, there will be one more minute of daylight than yesterday. We need to celebrate every bit of good news!
As 2021 begins, we are still living with the impact of Covid-19 on our congregational families. The good news is that vaccines are on the way. It will take time and continued vigilance. Yes, even if you are fortunate to receive the vaccine, you will still need to protect others—wear a mask. Be grateful that you can. (As of today, the U.S death toll is 376,000. Go to @FacesOfCOVID to acknowledge who has been lost)
One good thing from 2020, is that many of our church leaders have learned to communicate in the new media world. We can only get better! Rev. Angee Byrd, Rev. Eli Rolon and Jeff Parker will have more to share with us to aid our continuing growth in the use of technology as we seek to bear good news. Our communication team will also be bringing Missioninsite to you, with workshops and resources to help us learn “who are our neighbors?” and “how can we relevantly reach out to them?”
A first regional event this year was with our School for Ministry, “Racial Justice and the Role of the Community Church.” It took place the same week as the attack on the Capitol, one of our great institutions of democracy. The stark reality of systemic racism and callous abuse of power was on full display. Equal justice is not a reality in our nation. The church has a role to play in this story. Jesus asks: “do you want to be healed?” It will take truth-telling, repentance, and atonement for reconciliation to happen. We have more to do.
An invitation: One of our Regional Vision Initiatives is to be a church that is inclusive of our full diversity. Our LGBTQ Alliance ministry is offering a chance for folks who want to overcome the isolation of this moment to gather for a Zoom Mardi Gras party, Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m. You are not alone. Join us for an island gathering as we seek connections and build community. This group is also preparing a five-week region-wide Zoom Lenten study on Radical Inclusion, Feb. 24-March 24, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Alliance Q will be hosting “Building and Inclusive Church” virtual workshops during this time, as well.
I was asked by the group, “why now?” “What’s right about this time for this work?” My response in this moment: because love is stronger than hate; because lives are literally at stake; because as long as we hide the truth about who we are from each other, we never will be healed. Authenticity is soul work. Our churches have been having this conversation underground, erupting in death dealing ways. It is time to have the conversation above ground with respect for one another, not determined to win an argument, but to be in life-giving, life-changing relationship.
May we continue to live into our Vision: To be a radically welcoming Region of connected Disciples congregations, radiating the Creator’s love, continuing Christ’s mission, and following the Spirit’s call.