Dear Potomac Presbyterian Church Friends & Members,
I celebrated 21 years of ordained ministry on All Saints Day 2019. Over the course of those 21 years I learned a lot about Christ’s church and ways to serve and pastor congregations. I thought passing the twenty-year mark of ordained ministry made me a seasoned pastor and one who would have encountered most everything in ministry there is to encounter at least once. Then COVID-19 came to our shores, silently sneaked into the DC metro area, and then knocked on our church doors when we were practicing our Lenten disciplines. Today it feels as though everything is new and there are firsts in ministry all over again.
Some firsts of pastoring for me include:
- Not being in the church building on Easter morning for worship
- Cultivating my “televangelist” traits (as my non-church going friends lovingly call me)
- Setting up a worship studio space in the church and also at home
- Leading online worship including online Communion
- Live streaming Wednesday Bible Study
- Becoming adept at screen sharing on Zoom
- Not being able to visit in-person, a parishioner, when they were grieving
Thank you for walking this path so patiently with me and with our entire staff as we encounter firsts in our pastoring during this pandemic. Chris, Jeanne, Tom, and I continue to meet weekly (now by Zoom) and pray for you all as we did before. However, everything else seems different about our weekly staff meetings:
- Discussions about Worship are different—live? in the sanctuary? in the library studio? pre-recorded? who will help? Do we have streaming rights to the music? Can we Zoom a choir rehearsal?
- Discussions about Committee Meetings are different – How might we help the members to gather? How can we help them lead in the areas they are called to lead?
- Discussions about Mission are different – Which local organization is most in need this week? How might we partner with them?
- Discussions about Property and the building are different – Who will be in the building? when? Are we spread out enough? Who will be around to let in the workers?
- Discussions about Christian Education are different – Is our speaker comfortable with Zoom? Do we have an adequate number of Zoom accounts? When will we have Confirmation?
There are exciting developments from all of this that makes ministry feel fresh and wild. One development is that the Session has decided that we will livestream our services from the sanctuary once we get back into the sanctuary. We are looking into what this involves for us and the changes that we’ll need to make in order for this to happen. This will allow those of you who may not feel comfortable getting back into the sanctuary right away the chance to still gather for worship with the worshipping community.
There are also developments from all of this that make my head and heart hurt such as for people who are in living situations where they are unable to get out at all. My Aunt Louise is at Arbor Terrace in Fulton, MD and she’s safe but she has not been able to leave her room for a month. I know that some of you are in similar situations and the confusion and loneliness takes its toll on all involved.
One thing I am learning as time goes by (or maybe I’m just reminded of), is that some days we will feel on top of our game, clicking along recognizing that God’s got this, and we’ve got this, and we’ll get through it together with God’s help. Other days, it feels as though, nothing and no one is going to get us through, and God is nowhere to be found. I am with you in the midst of these ups and downs and I am with you to remind you and myself that God is in control, that God is leading us through and that we are not alone even when some days it may feel as though we are. Joshua’s words to people in the wilderness return as a helpful reminder, “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).