Our Community Meeting on Nov. 8th is worth reflecting on both for its content and character. Several important decisions were made regarding our journey towards online and in person ministry. Equally important, however, was our collective approach to making these decisions, which have reflected and continue to reflect maturing striving that includes prayerful deliberation, building consensus, and the flexibility to continue changing and adapting along the way.
Our collective deliberation also continues to reflect care for one another, and a desire to be an outward facing Church in service to God and to the world. For even as the apostle Paul reminds us, we do not live to ourselves, but to God. (Romans 14:7, 8) And as Jesus reminds us with the Greatest Commandment, loving God naturally flows into loving our neighbors.
So, what were the decisions that were made?
First: We decided that, while we will wait until Epiphany to begin hybrid online and in person worship (Jan. 3rd), we will move forward with having Community Partners such as AA and the Hamilton Music Studio begin to utilize the building again beginning in December. The small wedding ceremony for Doug Upright and Christine Brooks on Dec. 5th will also move forward. How fitting that God’s House will first support addiction recovery ministry and music teaching efforts in our New Paltz community, as well as the union couple seeking to ground their lives together in Christ! This reflects our striving to be an outward facing Church, for the world, and for the growth and nurture of participants in this communities’ life.
We will also move forward with our decision to celebrate Holy Communion remotely, beginning on Sunday, Nov. 29th (please see “Communion in a Time of Crisis” for more information on this). And many wonderful plans are underway to mark the seasons of Advent and Christmas with a variety of opportunities to deepen our faith as individuals, households, and as a community of faith.
Second, we decided to pivot from using the money we had raised for Phase Two of roof work to using this money to improve air and water quality in God’s House at Redeemer (aka the Building), as well as to get the Fellowship Hall fixed up so as to better support congregational activities and future Community Partners. We should be hearing back from the Metropolitan New York Synod by the end of November as to whether we can also pivot in the use of the matching funds that they had granted to us as well. Such investments in God’s House at Redeemer are not really about the building, but about building its capacity to be utilized in support of Christ’s purposes as we seek to be stewards of this resource entrusted to us.
These continue to be trying times for most everyone. And in trying times there can be a tendency to hunker down, look inward, and go into survival mode. Yet the world needs, not a Church in survival mode, but a Church reaching and risking for the sake of the gospel and the world. An outward facing Church committed to adapting and changing and being flexible in ways that will serve God in Christ for the sake of the world far beyond when this pandemic has ended.
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Together, by the grace of Christ, we can and will continue to grow as such a congregation within such a Church. Always for the gospel and always for the world.