Pandemic Ponderings

from the Transitional Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley

October 11, 2021

Dear Friends,

I am so excited to share with you this LETTER from the newly formed Tech Team. Please take a minute to read it now. One of the over-arching goals to come out of the strategic visioning process was facilitating and improving communication: communication within congregations, among congregations, and for the presbytery as a whole. As their letter makes clear, the Tech Team will help us all do just that! Twenty months ago, very few of our congregations were inhabiting digital spaces. Now they nearly all are in one way or another. And we learned some things about the value of making these platforms available; it makes participating in presbytery-wide meetings and events more accessible by not requiring hours of driving. For congregations, it reaches people who, for a variety of reasons may not be able to get out for an in-person meeting. It opens up avenues for congregations to work with one another or share Bible Studies/book discussions when distance might otherwise have prohibited it. At the start of the pandemic, the digital bell was rung (and you all responded with such creativity and adaptability) and as the pandemic stretches into an endemic, it’s not going to be unrung. The Tech Team will enable us all to use these cyber gifts God has given us in ever more effective ways to serve God’s kingdom. Thank you, Tech Team!

Also in the interest of developing our communication skills, the Equip, Nurture, and Connect (ENC) is offering another installment of the E-vent – the digital way they’ve been offering the Main Event throughout this year. Join in this discussion of the book The Art of Gathering: how we meet and why it matters by Priya Parker. You do not have to have read the book in order to participate in a discussion hosted by Revs. Elizabeth Goodrich and Joe Genau. The concept the book explores is the invitation to assess how we meet in terms of inclusion and equity. The Amazon review states it this way: “In The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker argues that the gatherings in our lives are lackluster and unproductive – which they don’t have to be. We rely too much on routine and the conventions of gatherings when we should focus on distinctiveness and the people involved. At a time when coming together is more important than ever, Parker sets forth a human-centered approach to gathering that will help everyone create meaningful, memorable experiences, large and small, for work and for play.” Come join us for what promises to be a lively and enlightening conversation. To join in click here.

A word about communication. Why is it so important? Coming through this pandemic has thrown into graphic relief how much we social beings yearn for connection. It’s at the core of being human (yes, even for introverts). Many have felt isolated during this time in ways that have even threatened their mental health and well-being. When God looked at the creation and saw the earth person there in the beautiful garden, God’s pronouncement was, “It is not good to be alone.” So God created another earth person. When God surveyed this addition – it was very good! Communication allows us to bridge the gaps between us so that we can truly share our human experience. It allows us to work together, to cooperate, to collaborate, to understand, and to grow into the fullness of life together in Christ.

As ever in prayer,

 Sue Westfall

PS. October is “Pastor Appreciation Month.” Why not take this as a nudge to communicate to your pastor how much you appreciate them. For instance, at Edgewood Presbyterian Church in worship yesterday at the beginning of the prayer concerns time, they orchestrated several members to give brief testimonials about their pastor, Joe Genau using Biblical references. Then they zoom bombed him by delivering to him live a money purse they had collected and a card. Your church will do it your own way but I can tell you, it was a moment full of joy and love. That act of kindness built up Christ’s body.



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