April 24, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters on this Journey,

Grace and peace we bring you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We write to you in thanksgiving for the faithfulness and courage you have demonstrated during the past month as we have been asked to shelter in place for the wellbeing of our members, our families and our neighbors in the world.

By your witness you have affirmed that the church – the true church – is not the building, but the community of faith that continues to witness and serve in creative ways. From the smallest to the largest in size, our congregations have demonstrated resilience and creativity.  Zoom worship, pre-recorded sermons, offerings of music and art have flooded our realities, inspiring and encouraging us into a new day. Our community ministries and partners have continued to feed the hungry and homeless, ensuring that our witness in the world is reflected in concrete ways.

Our prayers continue with you as you navigate what it means to be present for one another during times of illness, death, baptisms, Lord’s supper and weddings.  Our prayers are with you as you navigate what it means to be present for those who have found themselves homeschooling, are living alone, are in nursing homes, and otherwise isolated.  Our prayers are with you as you faithfully serve in ways that can be exhausting.  We could have never foreseen a time such as this.  But it precisely at this time that you and we have been called to serve.

We hope you will join us at our next CyberPsalms Café on April 28th at 2pm.  It will be led by a mental health specialist serving on CREDO faculty who will address “Trauma Matters” as a way of addressing how this pandemic has impacted leadership and those we serve.

As we continue on this unprecedented journey, we encourage us all to continue honoring the directives of our Governor and the CDC.  We anticipate new directives coming soon as the coalition of governors on the east coast work to navigate the balance of lifting restrictions with the need to ensure the health of the people.  Although we do not yet know what they will be, we anticipate there will still be challenges as we embark on what will undoubtedly be a “new normal.”  In the next few weeks, we will be providing some guidelines that we hope will be helpful as you consider the road before you.

If you have not yet done so, please go to our website where you will be informed of emergency grants, loans, virtual gatherings and more.  We invite you to share a photo of something that has occurred in your ministry that has been life-giving.  We will be posting them on our website as a way of reminding us all how God continues to work through this season.

Our next presbytery meeting will be held virtually on Saturday, May 16th 10-noon.  More information on that will be forthcoming.  We truly hope we will see many of you at that time.  We have missed you.

Last week’s lectionary from the Gospel of John reflected on the story of the disciples, gathered in fear behind locked doors.  We are reminded that it is precisely in that place that Jesus breaks in with words that echo today – Peace be with you.  We are a people of resurrection hope!

Blessings to you all –

Elder Vijay Aggarwal, Moderator of the Presbytery

Rev. Ruth Faith Santana-Grace, Executive Presbyter