We are at the “liturgical” one-year anniversary of the pandemic. One year ago, the 2nd Sunday of Lent and the week before our annual Healing Service, we stopped having in-person worship and switched to live-streaming. I looked at my rector’s letter from that week when I announced we’d be continuing to live-stream our worship for the foreseeable future. I wrote, “Bishop Alan has suggested the current situation may last for 8 weeks or more, so we are in it together for the long haul.” I guess Bishop Alan was right about the “or more” part! Indeed we have been in it together for the long haul.
Last week our vestry met for our annual retreat. Dean Amy McCreath, who facilitated the retreat, asked us to think about three things: What Happened, So What, and What Next? This was a great way to reflect on the past year (what happened??), think about what we learned (so what?), and form plans for the future (what next?).
In reflecting on the past year, the vestry realized that the Redeemer community has really pulled together this year and that nearly all of our regular church activities continued in one way or another. One vestry member reflected that we “re-affirmed that what it means to be a congregation is to be in relationship with each other and discovered new ways to do this.” Another said, “We kept doing what we normally do — just in a different way.” I was particularly struck by how our mission activities continued, either in tangible ways such as how our congregation supported Follen Church when they were targeted by a white supremacist group or in alternate ways, such as when we send funds to St. Christopher’s Mission in Navajoland when we couldn’t travel to be with them in person.
The vestry also did some goal-setting for the year to come. Obviously one goal is to plan for regathering in person. We’re blessed that our strong Regathering Team is still working hard on that, and you’ll be hearing more about that process in the coming weeks. Another goal is to pick up the threads of our conversation about renovating our worship space. We may not be in the same place as we were a year ago on this topic. However, the organ is still broken, and there is still asbestos floor tile in the church. We do have to make decisions to deal with these issues. Therefore, the vestry will soon be asking the Organ Committee to re-start its work to finalize recommendations for repairing or replacing the organ, and will consult with the property committee and others to re-start the conversation about worship space renovations or repairs. We also will of course continue our parish-wide conversations about what we hope for in our worship space. Those hopes may have changed, or may be much the same. I look forward to talking with all of you more about that in the coming months.
It was helpful to reflect on what happened this past, eventful year, how it changed us, and what we learned. As Easter approaches, we can also start thinking about “what next”? I’m excited for the next chapter in Redeemer’s story as we get ready for what is next for our community beyond the pandemic and in the years to come.