Rev's Revelations

One year ago, I was interviewing with the Bethlehem Lutheran Church call committee for the third or fourth time. By then I was imagining what this summer would be like--as your pastor. I’d be going to camp with confirmation students, traveling to South Dakota for a mission trip, having picnics and potlucks and vacation bible school. There were other pastoral things I looked forward to, too: working with our leadership to do strategic planning and goal setting for 2021 and beyond, making home visits, getting to know members over coffee or meals, and walking with families through weddings and baptisms and funerals. Then, I was called here!

And then, COVID.

Instead of planning camp, vacation bible school, and a mission trip, we frantically ended the 2019/2020 school year by replanning and cancelling events. Instead of having picnics and potlucks, we were organizing members to be grocery-runners for others who couldn’t leave home because of virus risks. Our coffee visits have turned to Zoom and phone chats and, now, the occasional porch visit. Every meeting--council and strategic planning and even quilting--is online instead of in-person. And, while this technology is a miraculous blessing, it seems that everything takes about twice as long online.

Obviously, other things have happened since we officially became congregation and pastor. You all raised enough money for a new furnace and to start a capital improvement fund. As Deaconess Kristen began discerning changes in her call to ministry, we called Deaconess Ann to serve as the Interim Director of Faith Formation. When a random Pastoral Intern, Kelsey, had to leave Bratislava because of the pandemic, we became her church and internship site for the spring/summer. There’s been a social uprising, too, which prompted a number of our members to start reading different books and having very hard conversations.

Additionally, some of the changes which have happened because of the pandemic are GOOD! We now have cameras installed in the sanctuary. This means that even when the pandemic is over, we can more easily bring worship to our members who are sick or homebound. It also means that we can share worship experiences with family and friends in other cities and states. We have also learned to use Zoom and YouTube so widely that when we return to in-person worship and have a blizzard, then we can probably still get everyone “to” worship online. And, the most amazing thing has happened-- both in our congregation and in the larger church: we have begun to reimagine worship and communion. We have been forced to consider where, when, how, and why we do these things. As a result, we are participating in a church more like the early church--in people’s homes and celebrating the holy meal in places where we actually have meals.

This pandemic will continue to shape our lives both in and out of church for the foreseeable future. I anticipate we’ll be worshipping online for at least a few more months. For now, a few of our fall activities may happen in outdoor small-group settings. Most of our fall activities will resume on Zoom and YouTube rather than in-person. While in-person, indoor meetings and activities are unlikely to happen very soon, we (myself, BLC Staff, BLC Council, BLC Shepherds and Evangelism and Faith Formation and many others) are seeking ways to connect our congregation. We hope that this newsletter will help you make some connections with people you love and miss! Know that any and all “plans” are subject to change and pray for a miracle cure, treatment, and/or vaccine for COVID19 to change our plans soon! Whatever the coming months bring, I’m grateful to get to be church together with you all.




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