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In all seasons of life, the Church, the body of Christ, is called to walk by faith, not by sight, and to journey through change - together. This definitely is the case as we find ourselves, an Easter people, navigating the unchartered waters of the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for our common life - short and long term. The timing of this edition of The Messenger is due to changes to how we have operated, event offerings, and what normally is communicated.

Today, the Church is learning to live anew and grow, while practicing physical distancing and mindful of our mission to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. I suspect each member of the body is being stretched in ways that might make it hard to return to some old ways or, at least, is having experiences that will create significant memories. My learnings are many, journal is fuller than ever, and I look forward to exchanging stories with you.

To be the Church and provide strength for the journey, personal contacts are being made by clergy, staff, and fellow parishioners via phone, letters, special deliveries, and some e-mails. Many are engaging in congregational life virtually through worship, formation, and fellowship offerings, and outreach ministries have found creative ways to serve the destitute and needy. Countless households are living into the adjustments and complexities as well as the privileged benefit of tele-work, education, shopping, and even socializing.

The Church is in prayer for youth and families wading through the natural disappointments associated with the inability to gather in-person for the normal long-awaited spring socials, assemblies, and graduations. Thankfully, school administrations are finding ways to celebrate graduates and acknowledge that their significance is paramount, as are those preparing to receive new students. Still, we long to be together again, as soon as possible, and we likely share the sentiment of a mixture of fear, anxiety, and hope, because “this too shall pass.”

In all of these situations and more that you can add, the Church is learning how to be, namely how to be companions on the way with fellow members of the body of Christ and all people created in the image of God. Jesus reminds his followers that he will be with them always and that all shall be well – in all seasons. May God bless us as we try daily to live into what it means to be the Church, which is called to thrive beyond and within its walls - by its members.

Eastertide blessings and peace,

Ollie+

The Rev. Ollie V. Rencher

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