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A Gathering Update

March 10, 2021

Dear Grace,

Today is the one-year anniversary of my arrival at Grace, and marks 365 days of us being Church in a pandemic. I pray that you and your loved ones are faring well, and have the strength you need for this day. Thank you for all the ways you continue to show up for one another.

I want to share some exciting progress in our planning for returning to in-person ministry. Because a large majority of our community is not yet vaccinated, we do not yet have a date on the calendar for in-person worship. The current rate of vaccinations is giving us hope that day is on the horizon.

A task force is at work to help us get to that glorious day. They, under the guiding leadership of Lynn Jesh, have begun this work in earnest. Lynn is a project manager by profession and has volunteered her expertise. She is God-given for a time such as this. Last night, she helped our congregation council articulate an important guiding statement for the complex task ahead.

Grace’s plan to reconvene in-person ministry will consider:

  • Our capacity to provide a safe and meaningful experience
  • Equity and care for the most vulnerable
  • Evolving guidance on gatherings

The task force is creating a structure for us to figure out how to do the things we miss so much, and I am grateful.

I want to repeat something our Congregational Council has been in consensus about:

The Church is different than a school or other institution. ln 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul describes the church as the body of Christ. Just like a human body, “if one member suffers, all suffer together with it.” And, “the eye can’t say to the hand, I have no need of you.” Today, we might say, “The vaccinated cannot say to the unvaccinated, ‘I have no need of you.’”

We will be guided by the brave love that Jesus taught. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul writes, “Love is patient; love is kind…it does not insist on its own way…it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

In that kind of love,

Pastor Deb Stehlin

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