From the Pastor’s Screen – March 2021 – On The Verge

On The Verge

It’s March (or nearly, I’m writing this in February). You know March, it comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It’s the time that flower buds poke through the snow and we start to feel spring around us, really feel it coming on. It’s March and we are coming out of winter hibernation, like sleepy bears, hungry for something sweet.

Nikki-Shaw-Church-Photo-Glo-2This year, we are also on the verge of emerging from a pandemic, on the verge of emerging from a violent political climate, on the verge of blooming in a new season.

Verge is a powerful word. Its Latin origin means to bend or incline. That means that when we say we are on the verge of something, we are the one inclining toward what’s coming. It means that we must bend, not unlike the stalks of early-blooming bulbs, bowed and tilted, their blooms drooping until they are strong enough to lift toward the sun.

As we come out of a time of distance and pause, I’m thinking and praying about how we will bend and incline as a congregation. In the past 14 months we’ve installed a new pastor, revised and re-formed our budget to reflect not our fiscal goals, but our missional ones (worship, faith formation, community outreach and mission). We’ve learned to worship in new, meaningful ways. We’ve welcomed a new choir director, who continues the legacy of our previous, talented director and choir and who has innovated our program in these strange times. We are already stretching into a new season.

I’ve been aware, since my call to this congregation, that we are a church who likes to look forward to our “next big thing.” We are a church, I’ve come to know this first year in ministry, who is interested in what comes next, how we can progress in our care of our marginalized neighbors, and how what we do in Christ’s name for our neighbors. While we’ve been in our season of necessary, life-saving hibernation, I and some of our church leadership have engaged in education to prepare for this next season. Your Treasurer, Bruce Andres and I have read the book The Unstuck Church, which we think will be a valuable tool for our leadership to better understand the path for this church’s missional growth and to better understand ourselves and our current situation.

Our Moderator-Elect, Linda Bohman, has partnered with me and with Bruce to create a staff evaluation tool that allows the Council to be in conversation with me about my work here and allows me to be in conversation with our staff (Office Administrator Michelle Armstrong and Choir Director Sara Mowrey) about our shared work for the benefit of the congregation.

Our Moderator, Liz Andres, has been proactive in forming a nominations committee to help us cultivate new leadership for this our faith provides a foundation for congregation as we move this spring into a new Council election. And there are the names I haven’t named, deacons and trustees, ONA and Christian education chairs, missions team and Pastor Relations Committee and more, who have engaged with me in imagining what’s coming on the verge of our new season as a church.

We are bending into a new spring. We have nothing but sunshine and growth ahead of us. And if we are planning to be strong enough to grow toward God’s sun, we need to bend and incline together. I look forward to engaging all of your energy, gifts, and dreams for this congregation as we work toward what is next for us and join our church leadership in learning and exploring so that we can dream about and then live into, what’s next for this church.