Dear People’s people,

The last few weeks have brought unprecedented changes to our life together – a ban on large gatherings, shelter-at-home orders, cancelled schools, lost jobs, the challenges of working from home or continuing to work as an essential employee, worry, fear, isolation, and uncertainty. It is a challenging time and I anticipate that the month ahead will bring more challenges – the continued disruptions of our routines, social isolation, illness, and death. Know that even though the church building is closed, the church is more than the building. We are a community. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen you knit our community together in powerful ways in this season of social distancing.

Staff, Sunday Services committee members, and musicians have figured out how to create Sunday services on Zoom – and so many of you have navigated a new computer program to be able to be present with us. (Or have caught the service later on YouTube.) There has been a story time led by children’s librarian and People’s person Laura Bultman every weekday that has brought joy into the lives of peoples of all ages. Many chalice circles, as well as the coming of age class, a meditation class, and many committees have also met virtually. People’s people have volunteered to call all of the members and friends of the church, reaching out to folks to make sure they know we’re thinking of them and available for support. You have given generously to the minister’s discretionary fund to support people in our church who are suffering financially because of the pandemic. And so many of you have reached out to me to encourage me to take care of myself in these challenging times. Thank you.

My favorite moment of every week now is at 10:40 on Sunday morning. I see some of you begin to join our Zoom meeting room for service. I catch glimpses of your faces and your homes. I see your names on the screen – and I feel connected to you. I remember that we are all in this together. Thank you for showing up for one another in all the ways you are able. It inspires me. I am lucky to have you all to weather this storm with.

As you know by now, this is not an ordinary church newsletter. These are not ordinary times. Many of you know I love to plan. I usually have my topics for Sunday services picked months in advance and spend weeks ruminating on them. That approach doesn’t work now. Our services will respond to our reality. How are we coping? How is this time challenging our theology or other dearly held ideas? Where are we finding strength and meaning? How have other communities weathered challenging times? How do we live through grief and loss? We will be working with the limits – and gifts – of our technology to bring you something like a service, though the format might change. I hope you come to service. It is powerful to be together, especially when we are apart.

While some programs are listed in this newsletter, others will be listed in the twice weekly emails the church will send until we are back together. Contact Chris Schleuder to be added to our email list. Contact me if you have an idea for a program you would like to lead.

I’m going to close with the prayer I offer every Sunday after our joys and sorrows ritual.

Sources of reason and radiance,
Sources of courage and compassion,
Keep watch with those who work or watch or weep this day,
May the suffering be soothed.
May the weary find rest
May the sick be tended.
May the dying and those who love them find peace.
May the joyous be shielded.
And may all of us know that we are wrapped in a love that surrounds us always,
A web that connects us to all that exists.
May it be so. May we make it so. Amen.

Take good care of yourselves. Take good care of each other. Please be in touch if there are ways that I or the church can support you in these times.

Holding all of you in my heart,
Rev. Rachel

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