Do you know someone (maybe you?) who would like to receive a mailed copy of the Sunday worship and sermon each week? Contact Kim or Pastor Amy to be added to our list.
Many thanks to all of you who are continuing to fulfil the pledges you made last year for the life and ministry of the congregation in 2020! We are truly blessed that our giving and expenses are tracking pretty closely to the budget we adopted in January. We are nearing the season when we will ask about your giving plans for 2021. We recognize that the financial situation for many of us has changed. It will be helpful for us to know if you anticipate that your giving will be changing in 2021 – whether increasing or decreasing. You may communicate that information privately to Kim, our administrative assistant, who will share the dollar differences (without the names) to the session budget committee for their planning purposes. You may reach Kim at the church phone # 425-776-4334, or by email at OfficeEPC@frontier.com.
2020 is turning out to be a year like no other. Some have speculated that in the future, if you’re having a really bad year, all you’ll need to say is “It’s 2020 all over again!” and everyone will know that you’re experiencing the worst of the worst. But poet Leslie Dwight encourages us to think differently of this year. In her now viral Instagram post and poem, she writes,
In the life of our congregation all in-person gatherings are on hold. We meet virtually on Zoom, grieving that not everyone can participate. We have needed to re-think our planned remodel of the church, as the Presbytery has chosen to not have physical office space in 2021. And in the midst of this change-filled year, I have announced another change – that I will end my pastorate with you in January, 2021. (There are family reasons behind the change. I had hoped for many more years with you before we needed to part ways. I trust that you have received my email with the details, so I will not repeat them here.) All these changes in the life of the congregation may lead you to wonder is it worth it? Does God still have a plan for this church community? These are fair questions, and ones the Session will wrestle with as they meet in the next few months.
But I wonder if we also need the wisdom from the poets among us? What if this “IS the year we have been waiting for?” What if this year is “the MOST important year of all?” When God’s people have lived through times of change, they have written about it in the Psalms, preached sermons about it, found inspiration in the words of Jesus, and guidance in their prayers. That’s how Christian discernment happens, and that’s what we will do, too.
This fall I will re-start the preaching series on the Seven Marks of Vitality, the seven areas of our congregational life that every congregation exhibits in large and small ways. These are the things that make us a church. The Session is undertaking two extended sessions of discernment together in September, using material developed for churches in times like these. In October we plan on opening up our discernment process to include other congregational participants. If you are feeling led to assist in this way, please let me or a Session elder know of your interest.
I intend to remain curious about what the future may hold for Edmonds Presbyterian Church. What if this “IS the year we have been waiting for?” What if this is the year that Isaiah speaks of, for us, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19
Please join me in holding the Session and our congregation in your prayers as we discern together God’s invitation for 2020 and beyond.
It is a challenging time to be on the Session! We have:
· Scheduled two initial sessions for discerning what’s next for our congregation and its ministry.
· Met with our Presbytery Liaison from the Commission on Ministry, Rev. Ted S.
· Added checklists for our COVID-Response-Officers to use as they make sure we follow our plan once we are able to reopen.
· Applied for a Northwest Coast Presbytery grant application for assistance with new Post-COVID-19 ministry needs
· Continued to support our mission causes.
· Continued to offer worship, bible study, fellowship, and game nights via Zoom.
· With the assistance of the deacons and staff members, we continue to reach out to every member and friend in the church directory – online or by phone – to offer our prayers and support.
Please continue to keep your session elders and their work on your behalf in your prayers.
Since we still can not meet in person, the board has decided to give our mission offering by mail. Checks may be sent to our treasurer, Kathy M. (please contact the church office for her mailing address if you do not have a church directory.)
She will mail checks to the mission agencies we have been sending to each year.
A Zoom meeting has been scheduled for 11:30 am on Wednesday, September 9th. Pastor Amy and Margaret S will host the meeting. We will begin with devotions and prayer, followed by a chance to visit with each other. This will give us a chance to see how well the Zoom meeting works. If it works well, we can get some speakers in the future.
The One Great Hour of Sharing Offering provides help for people who have suffered loss during natural or conflict -caused disasters, for people facing hunger, lack of water and sanitation and inadequate income. It is early in the hurricane season and already people living in Louisiana and Texas have suffered damages. In Isaiah 58:7-8, God tells his people his will is for them to provide food for the hungry, shelter for poor wanderer, and clothing for the naked, just as Jesus told his followers in Matthew 25:37-40.
PRESBYTERIAN DISASTER ASSISTANCE works with communities as they try to recover from disaster, natural or human-caused. 32% of the total offering supports this ministry.
PRESBYTERIAN HUNGER PROGRAM works to provide food for the hungry and to help solve hunger problems by giving farm animals, seeds and tools to help people grow their own food. This fund also works to care for creation, and help alleviate systemic causes of poverty so there will be enough food and water for all. 36% of the offering will provide assistance with these needs.
SELF-DEVELOPMENT OF PEOPLE helps those who are experiencing oppression, poverty and injustice. Small grants are given to help people start very small businesses to help lift them out of poverty. 32.5% of the funds will be used in this way.
Offerings may be mailed to the church. Please mark clearly that this offering is for the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering. Give with thankfulness as you feel God’s leading.
I bet that some of us, when we were growing up, were told that there were certain ways to behave in the church building, because it is God’s house. Maybe it was not to run, or to keep our voices quieted, or maybe we were taught to invite others in.
In Isaiah 58, the author is addressing a people who have returned to Jerusalem, where the Temple—God’s house—was in shambles. I imagine it was a heartbreaking scene. And in that rubble, the prophet challenges the people, not to rebuild the building or to restore their religious rituals, but to care for the hungry, the weak and the vulnerable—the prophet called the people to become the house of God. Look around you again. We are the house of God, too. We are called to become, as Isaiah promised long ago, “repairers of the breach, restorers of streets to live in.” Together, we become the household of God.
Through One Great Hour of Sharing, a special offering of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), we extend shelter to those who have no place to stay, offer compassion to those who have pain—be it physical, emotional or spiritual—and we set a feast, with God, for those who lack access to enough food to eat.
When the wind and water wipe homes away, or bombs destroy the dwellings of the innocent, or people lack safe and affordable housing, One Great Hour of Sharing extends a roof.
When conflict and war cause famine, or the environment endangers the land of farmers, or those who work the fields are not paid enough to feed their families, One Great Hour of Sharing welcomes them to the table.
When water becomes scarce, or when it must be accessed by walking long and dangerous distances, or when the pipes or sources become poisoned, One Great Hour of Sharing rushes in as a spring of life-giving water.
God’s house is a place where needs are met and the broken systems that cause those needs are addressed. Across this country and around the world, Presbyterians are responding to the call we hear in Isaiah. We are God’s people and are becoming a household with the suffering and vulnerable. We are celebrating God’s goodness and grace and giving to One Great Hour of Sharing.
(reflection from the PCUSA 2020 One Great Hour of Sharing offering resources)
If I asked you to close your eyes while I said the word “household,” what would come to mind?
A table with food, shared with family and friends?
Yes? Did I think of some of the same things you did? I imagine we all think of many of these same things when we think about a household. Yet there are many in this world who don’t enjoy those comforts that we may automatically think of when we hear that word. Household.
People like Mimita whose home and life in Puerto Rico were literally torn apart by Hurricane Maria.
Or like Abdi who lost her husband and had to trek for days with her small children through a war-torn region of Somalia to bring the family to a place where they could find food and shelter. Did I mention that she was pregnant at the time?
And Monica, whose day-to-day peace of mind was threatened by a predatory landlord who brought false charges against her time after time as he tried to evict her in order to rent her New Jersey apartment for more money.
What do you think these three women think when they hear the word “household?” Not comfort but perhaps discomfort. Not a hot meal but wondering where the next meal is coming from. Not shelter and warmth but sky above where once a roof had been.
But this is not the end of these stories, for where there is life, there is hope. Where God is, there is hope. Together, we become the household of God. Through One Great Hour of Sharing, we extend shelter to those who have no place to stay, offer compassion to those who have pain—be it physical, emotional or spiritual—and we set a feast, with God, for those who lack access to enough food to eat. May we be called, as Isaiah said, to be “repairers of the breach.” To be the church in the world and active followers of our faith.
Through One Great Hour of Sharing, we are building a household with the suffering and the vulnerable— God’s household filled with love where everyone is welcome. Please give generously, for when we all do a little, it adds up to a lot.
(reflection from the PCUSA 2020 One Great Hour of Sharing offering resources)
Roza has re-written her reflection. We will add it to the website soon!
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