Processing the Pandemic
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I always loved this statement from our then-Stated Clerk of the PC(USA), Gradye Parsons: We are a “Do It Together” church in a “Do It Yourself” world.
As we weathered these last 16 months, it became clear that we do better when we can meet to share ideas, raise concerns, share wisdom and experience, and offer compassion and forgiveness as we tried to “do church” in ways we never imagined before.
Now as we try to figure out what a post-COVID world will look like, we are trying not to conform to the tendency to “get back to normal,” but to discern what God was trying to teach us during these COVID times. Certainly there are things we will be happy to put behind us, but we also learned many things that I hope we don’t forget. Also, as we move out of survival mode, other thoughts will arise, like: How did we do during the pandemic? What did we learn that will impact the way we do church now? Where was God in all of this confusion and tragedy?
So we invite you to connect with others in the presbytery family to share your questions, your experiences, and your wisdom. We know that everyone is approaching this differently, so we are offering the groups on a “drop in” basis, so that you can touch base with others in a safe, mutually supportive environment. The groups, called “Processing the Pandemic,” will be facilitated by Rev. Dr. Sophie Eurich-Rascoe, who has been a blessing to many who have worked with her in individual and group spiritual direction and therapeutic settings, as a guest preacher and guide for churches in transition, and as a wise and caring colleague for folks trying to process a difficult situation.
We want the groups to be a safe place to connect, so they will be confidential to whoever is in that particular group session, they are offered at no cost thanks to a grant from the national church, and we are offering one group for church members and friends, and one for active and retired clergy and pastors. We do hope that these groups will be a small oasis of care as we consider what we just went through in this period of pandemic, racial violence and awakening, political division, and whatever else.
This week we will hold organizing meetings for anyone interested. We want to find the best time to meet, and how (in person? Zoom? hybrid?). The organizing meetings will be on Zoom:
- Church members and friends, June 30, 7-8:30 Click here to join Zoom meeting.
- Clergy and pastors, July 1, 10:30 am-noon. Click here to join Zoom
Note you don’t have to pre-register; just click on the meeting you want to attend, and you’ll be sent immediately into the meeting. And even if this isn’t a good time for you to meet regularly, I would urge you to attend this meeting, so you can suggest a better time when more folks can meet.
At our last presbytery meeting, we announced three other groups. These groups are more focused on a particular topic related to confront systemic racism. We will begin these groups this summer, and we do ask that you express your interest in these groups so that the group leaders can contact you directly.
The groups are:
- Dialogues on Race: Co-led by Harlan Redmond and Rev. Ally Lee (Organizing Pastors, Interwoven New Worshiping Community). The group will meet weekly for seven weeks using the Dialogues on Race curriculum by Augsburg Press. The group will practice dialogue techniques and learn about the history of racism in the American church. Group conversations will start at the end of July and meeting day and time will be determined by the group. Contact Ally Lee: email@example.com.
- Conversations on Reparations with African Americans: The group will be convened by Wendy Gist. Group to determine meeting dates and times. This group will start with study and self-reflection on one accessible situation that calls out for reparations. We will resist our desire to jump to a “quick fix” but practice the many steps towards reconciliation, including reparations that come out of relationship with the Contact Wendy Gist: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Reforming Presbytery Practices: This group will gather with Wendy Tajima and members of the Committee on Representation and Nominations (CoRN) to review Presbytery practices and values that exclude many potential leaders, and propose changes to the way we “do business” that invite broader participation and more faith-focused discernment in our decision-making. Contact Wendy Tajima: email@example.com.
There is a flyer about all of the groups that you can distribute to your church and friends.
Our experience is that we have a wonderful resource of faith, kindness, and wisdom among the members of our presbytery family, so I am so happy that we can invite you to join any of these groups. Sign up today to join a group or two; group descriptions are on the registration form. With this form you can also tell us if you are interested in taking the Intercultural Development Inventory (I will discuss this more next week). Again, the “Processing the Pandemic” groups are drop-in, with initial meetings scheduled, so just show up!
Finally, we are holding a Mission Week for all youth, grades 6-12, July 26-30. We will be going to a different non-profit in a different city each day, in person. These have been great opportunities for youth from all our churches to experience mission work, and get to know other youth in our presbytery. More details to come.
Truly we are better together—so I am very thankful that we can invite you to connect this summer as partners in ministry.