As I think back on the last six months of life and ministry, like you, I could not have remotely imagined the changes and challenges we’ve experienced in our whole way of life at home, at church, and in society. It has been and continues to be a profoundly difficult time in many ways as plans change and our hearts ache over the suffering and disunity we see in our nation and throughout the world. It strikes me that the September newsletter is usually the one in which I call us back from our summer vacations, refreshed and renewed, to come to St. Andrew for a new season of spiritual growth as we also return to work, school, and other fall commitments. But what a different summer this has been! And what a different fall it will be!
That said, I can’t help but think of the countless ways in which you have kept the faith, continued to serve, and brought so much hope, joy, and encouragement to each other and to the world in which we live! Among these blessings are your compassionate ministries of human care, online gatherings, gifts and offerings, and a steady stream of encouraging words to our staff and to each other as we serve in new and unplanned ways. For all of that and so much more, we thank you for walking by faith and showing the world what a difference it makes, especially in times like this!
As you read this newsletter, you’ll see that we’ve planned some changes and additions to our ministry this fall which are subject to further change as the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic evolve and dictate.
You’ll notice that our online presence will increase. We plan to expand virtual Sunday services to two options, including one traditional and one contemporary. We will add weekly Bible study with Pastor Nick on Tuesdays and Common Ground Online Virtual offerings on select Wednesdays. Mid-Week Word + Song will move to Thursdays. The Bible studies, youth gatherings, children’s ministries, and groups that have already been underway for some time will continue. Watch for “Coffee with the Pastor” and other fellowship opportunities coming via Zoom. Please keep your leaders and staff in prayer as we look ahead and consider how we might celebrate Christmas this year given the possibility that we may not have the “all-clear” for in-person gatherings even then.
With respect to our in-person ministry, small group communions will move to Monday beginning in September in lieu of Monday Night Worship. The church office will be open from 9am – 3pm on weekdays, but I’ve asked most of our staff to keep working from home and come to the office only when necessary. Our preschool will open this fall with a smaller enrollment and numerous precautions and measures in place. And while we’ve been offering two of our four weekly services in person, when the time is right to re-introduce our 8:00 am Sunday service as a next step, we’ll let you know.
I also invite you to be on the lookout for a separate communication from St. Andrew which will offer focused attention on the stewardship of our gifts and offerings, church facilities, and financial obligations, all of which require our care and attention even when fewer of us are able to be physically present “on campus.” Our treasurer and finance team are committed to keeping you informed about the blessings, needs, and opportunities we have for the sake of God’s mission, especially now.
Last but not least, know that Pastor Nick and I, along with our leaders and staff, miss you very much. We love you and hold you in our hearts and daily prayers throughout what I call the “virus induced diaspora,” that our Lord will watch over us while we are physically apart and keep us close in Spirit until we can reunite in greater numbers for worship, service, and fellowship together.
So, read on to see our Lord and His people at work in new ways as this very different summer ends, a very different fall gets underway, and we, the people of God, praise Him nevertheless for His abiding presence and everlasting love!
The Lord be with you+
Love, in Christ,