Starting August 30 you will invited to join our church community in a year-long journey of reading a new book together: We Make the Road By Walking by Brian McLaren. (You can support our local bookstore and Islington Reads partner by getting your copy at A Novel Spot Bookshop.)
These six words – we make the road by walking – have guided me for the past four m
onths into unknown territory. They have guided our Church Council each time they had to approach a decision, taking it one step at a time. And, really, this is what we’ve all been doing together: taking slow and steady steps in faith. We’ve been doing it each and every day as we navigate the “new normal.”
I’ve found it important to keep these words in mind when I learn that other churches are opening in September. This is clearly not a time for comparison or competition between churches. We have unique needs to consider (such as having a large congregation combined with an intimate building space that has many entrances) and ensuring the health of church members and staff is our highest priority. Islington United must make this road by walking for the care of our entire community, and especially those most vulnerable.
The designation of our building as a construction site throughout the pandemic and into the fall (as the school finishes its renovations and we complete some urgent projects) gives us breathing room to decide well.
We have made the step to stream worship and will continue on this path, gathering in this way online until the season of Advent. Many of you are wondering and praying about “reopening.” You’ve held us in prayer this week as we held two memorial services (one to honour those who’ve lost their mothers and the other for beloved Ransford Chambers). Church Council has agreed that care in times of grief and funeral response is a priority. This was a trial run, a step towards testing our processes and practices for how we might be together again.
The staff team will meet with music and worship at the end of September to provide a broader plan to Church Council on what worship could look like in December. The Emergency Response Team (Carole Bennett, Marjorie Booth, John Leavitt (Chair), Wendy Sexsmith, Peggy Sheffield and I) continues to meet weekly, tracking government and world health directives, keeping apprised of the activities of other congregations locally and nationally, and consulting with the congregation. The New Normal Working Group (Laurie Martin, Sandra Tully (Chair) and Janet Wells) has been working on developing our pandemic response plan on behalf of Church Council, including coordinating training schedules and implementing new processes and work requirements for all staff. This is an ever-changing response and the work has required intention and flexibility.
Church Council will continue to update the congregation each step of the way. If you have any questions please contact Wendy Sexsmith, Chair of Church Council (firstname.lastname@example.org). In the meantime, please add the Annual Meeting to your calendar on October 7, 2020. This will be our second congregational meeting held using the Zoom videoconferencing platform.
WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING. Test out the phrase when you encounter situations wherein you aren’t sure what way to go, where you need to trust God with your steps.
As for me, I’ll be following a different path for the next few weeks, taking a break from work to enjoy some vacation time. That means that there will not be a live online gathering after church this Sunday. But you are not alone, of course. I am entrusting you to the care of Rev. Mark Aitchison next week, and James Aitchison and Roger Landell for the two weeks after that.
For now, I’d like to leave you with this introduction to our new book from the author Brian D. McLaren.