And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Easter, Passover, Ramazan, and Earth Day all grace April along with our annual stewardship campaign to raise the funds to support our beloved community and our service to the larger world. In a conversation with an elder of the church the other day, they remarked, “I am so impressed by how the church leaders invented an entirely new way of being a church together online while also weathering the stress and life changes brought on by the pandemic.” I am paraphrasing their remarks but I appreciated the recognition and affirmation of the extraordinary achievements of this church over the past year. I am sometimes overwhelmed with gratitude and amazement when I consider how our Board of Directors, staff members, congregational leaders, and the devoted members of this community stepped up to meet incredible challenges and forever changed how we minister together. Our stewardship campaign is a time to reflect upon and celebrate the accomplishments of this year as we also prepare for the future.
Reflecting upon how we became a church that successfully navigated the past year of this pandemic, I am reminded of how we strengthened the bonds of our beloved community by creating our new Chalice Circle small group ministries, responded to our soul’s longings for injustices to be righted by forming our Intersectional Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Commission, and launched the popular Beloved Conversations program. I am reminded of how we continued the work of developmental ministry by providing for financial stability, expanding how we offer pastoral care, supporting visitors and newcomers through our Faith Forward program, and began the process of refreshing our bylaws to affirm transparency, interdependence, and trust. We moved our worship services online and now regularly include more than 500 people in our congregation’s dynamic worship life! Though the past year sometimes feels like a year lost to many of us, our congregation blossomed in the midst of so many challenges. I hope that you will continue to support our flourishing with your generous giving. If all of this was possible in the pandemic, what wonders does the future hold for our beloved community?
Our spiritual theme for community exploration this month is Becoming. Theme-based ministry invites the entire congregation to reflect upon universal themes of religious life in creative ways each month. Becoming can be broadly defined as a “process of change” or as a change in which potentialities are actualized to ever greater degrees. Becoming invites us to shed what no longer serves our highest aspirations for ourselves and to embrace a future that is new and sometimes fraught with anxieties and fears. Strengthening our capacities for self-transcendence through spiritual practices like meditation, prayer, and practicing vulnerability in small group ministries can enhance our abilities to change and grow in new circumstances. I hope you will reflect upon this theme in greater depth in group meetings and activities this month. Some of the questions that our theme-based ministry partner Soul Matters provides for us to consider this month include: When was the day you first welcomed in the person you would become? Is it possible that you have actually become what your 6-year-old self imagined you be, perhaps in a totally unexpected form? What if becoming first requires us to unbecome who we are not? Is it possible that you need to unravel before you can unfold?
Pastoral Care is available if you are lonely, questioning, or struggling and would like a non-judgmental and compassionate spiritual companion. You can confidentially request pastoral support — or submit any joys, sorrows, or milestones for inclusion in community news and our Sunday worship services — by emailing our pastoral team leaders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With love and faith,
Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae