Good Day to you Church!
We had our first worship service together this past Sunday, and it was wonderful– well, at least, that’s what I thought! For those of you who came to the service, how was it for you? Did it feel good to be back? Was it strange? Surreal? Uncomfortable? Frustrating? If you’d like to share any thoughts with me about the service, I’d love to hear them! Just drop me an email. 🙂
If you were there this last week, you may have noticed that we had a few new faces in the crowd. For anyone coming to church for the first time, or for those in the early stages of getting to know people in a congregation, learning people’s names can feel like a daunting task. So I’d like to ask something of you– a gift that we can offer to new folks. Can we start to wear name tags every week? It makes it feel less intimidating to meet someone for the first time if you can easily see what their name is.
Sue Waters is going to work on making permanent name tags that will live on a bulletin board out in the bell tower entrance. Each week, you will be invited to find your name tag and wear it while we are all together. (Until the permanent board gets put up, we’ve got the sticker ones that you write your name on. They will be sitting right next to the bulletins on the table just outside of the sanctuary.) Then, you will be able to read the names of folks coming to visit for the first time, and they will be able to see yours as well!
During this continued time of Covid, session and I have been trying to figure out how to make coffee hour both functional and sustainable, and we think we’ve got a decent plan to start with. Beginning in June— on Sundays when the weather is nice enough to be outside— Renee Stauffer and her kids will set up a coffee and tea station in the bell tower entrance, next to the sanctuary. After worship, you will be invited to make yourself a cuppa there, and then take your beverage and your own lawn chair out to the lawn for fellowship and visiting.
For the time being, we are asking you to be responsible for your own chairs because it’s too much work to ask a volunteer to haul 30 chairs outside every week. But we want to make this extra chore as easy on all of us as possible. If you’d like to bring a lawn chair of your own and leave it in the narthex for the summer– so you don’t have to haul it in and out of your car every week– you are more than welcome to do that. And for those of us who are not physically able to carry a chair from the narthex to the lawn, Isaiah and Levi have offered to be porters. 🙂
Unfortunately, because of the unpredictable nature of the weather, we thought it best to scrap the idea of having people sign up to bring food each week. (Who wants to make cookies for 30 people, only to find that coffee hour has been canceled due to rain?!)
I realize that this is not the preferable way to have a coffee hour– on the whim of the weather, and with the added task of moving chairs everywhere– but like with everything else in the time of Covid, we’ve got to adapt our ways. Someday, dear friends, we will be able to return to nibbling cookies and drinking coffee together sans masks in the Center, but just not today. Just not today….
Those of us who come from differing Christian traditions have different feelings about communion. For some of us, it’s not very meaningful. But for others of us, it’s really important. Lately, a couple of different people have inquired about when we will be holding communion next– because they miss it so much– and I’d like to be able to honor this spiritual need of theirs, if possible.
I know you’ve grown accustomed to having communion via intinction– where everyone walks together to the front of the sanctuary and dips their piece of bread into the shared chalice of grape juice. (This, personally, is my favorite way to celebrate communion.) But again, Covid is going to prompt us to alter our routine.
June 6th we would like to celebrate communion together, and will do so by passing out the little cups of juice to each person in their pews (along with bread cubes and rice crackers for gluten-free folks). This means we will need volunteers to not only bring the bread and the juice, but to prepare it and then clean it up. Would you be willing to volunteer for this job? Anyone is able to help serve, not just deacons and elders. The job will take about 1 hour of your time– 30 minutes before hand and 30 minutes after the service.
It’s been explained to me that, in the past, we reduced the number of times we celebrated communion each year (down to quarterly) because there weren’t enough volunteers to be able to sustain the practice well. When you are in a small congregation, having communion becomes a function of how willing people are to step up and do the work of preparing it. At the end of the day, we put our energy where we think it matters, and where we need and want it to matter.
Right now, to honor those for whom communion is meaningful, session is thinking to try doing it every 2 months– if we can get enough volunteers. If this is important to us as a congregation, we will make it happen. If it’s not, and we can’t get the volunteers to help, then we can always go back to having communion once a quarter.
If communion is meaningful for you, I’m going to ask that you consider being one of the people who helps volunteer. If it’s not so meaningful for you, that’s ok. Not all of us find our spiritual sustenance in the same ways. That said, if you’re looking for a chance to practice living into agape love, this might be a great way to do just that. There can be more than one motivation for doing something!
If you’d like to sign up, please talk with Sharon Pickard, who will be organizing the volunteers.
Update on the Heating Project
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the heating system in the Center is woefully in need of updating and repair, and I am glad to say that Merkley’s will be coming in August to do the work.
Currently, we’ve raised $2,200 from a number of different families to help pay for the $17,000 cost. These funds, along with the $8,000 we can use from the Shaw Fund for the project, brings the total needed down to about $6,800. If you’ve been thinking and praying about sending in a contribution, now is the time to do it.
Bob Pickard has changed the day for grounds clean up to May 15th, starting at 9am. (It’s supposed to rain tomorrow.)
Our church participates in the Potsdam Interfaith Community, and throughout Covid, each church has taken a month to offer an educational opportunity for the rest of the community. Last month Tarik Maatallah from Potsdam’s majid did an “Ask a Mulsim” night and invited folks to ask their questions about what it’s like to be Muslim in America. Other groups have studied gratitude, taught folks how to make a special Jewish soup, or offered an online game night for the community to participate in. This month it’s our turn, and someone suggested that we do our learning opportunity on Black Lives Matter– to better explain to people what BLM Potsdam is all about.
This Thursday, 5/13 at 7 pm, I will be hosting a panel of people who participated regularly in the daily BLM rallies (including our own Julie Miller!) to talk about what it was that prompted them to stand on the corner for multiple hours every week, what it was like to be down there, and reflect on how their faith has impacted their commitment to BLM.
If you’d like to attend the event, here’s the zoom link for
Thursday, May 13th at 7pm.
Meeting ID: 897 1647 3476
Friends, one last thing. Please keep the Batson family in your prayers. Catherine had bypass surgery this last week and has been moved to the Highlands Nursing home in Massena for rehab (the address there if you wanted to send a card is: 182 Highland Rd. Massena, NY 13662), this next week Gordon goes down state to have angioplasty done, and in a few weeks their son Andrew is also having surgery.
Prayers, cards, and perhaps a ride to church for Gordon later in the month, would all be appreciated.
Phew! That was a lot of news to pass along. Did you make it all the way to the end?
Dear hearts, as I now bid you adieu, I will leave you with these words of encouragement:
“For the Spirit God gives us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”~2 Timothy 1:7