March Letter from the Elders
March 1, 2022
Hello from the Elders,
At each bi-monthly meeting (and at other times individually), the Elders pray by name for those among us who need special care. We receive those names and circumstances primarily from the senior minister. Those prayer concerns are up-to-the-moment current and correspond to the list shared during Sunday worship.
Until an interim minister arrives, and probably beyond, the Elders will assume the primary responsibility for gathering/receiving information about those who need prayer (and their circumstances).
If you have an emergency, new or ongoing prayer requests or updates you'd like to share about those already on our prayer list, please direct that information to Jeannette Etheridge. Jeannette will share with the Elders or others as situations require and with the congregation during Sunday worship prior to a pastoral prayer offered by one of our upcoming visiting ministers. The Elders are bound by the same discretions about sharing personal information that you would expect from clergy.
Consistent with our call to be the spiritual leaders of the church, the Elders are committed to continuing a deep level of pastoral care and concern during the weeks ahead when ministerial leadership will be absent. Our ability to fulfill our role depends on the congregation's devotion to identifying and sharing concerns about those who might need care.
As Elders, our responsibility to this congregation is a full-time duty. However, we are not fully present in the daily traffic that directs the course of each church day. And we do not hold special pastoral privilege, nor are we privy to the trusted channels of communication that a senior minister cultivates over time. The seven Elders will depend on you to help us continue to share the love and concern that makes this congregation special.
On behalf of Todd Brame, Wanda Brown, Jeannette Etheridge, Kathy Sandifer, Tish Scott and Wanda Sutton, and with prayers for peace and good,
Chair of the Elders
It has been quite a party. And I don’t just mean yesterday, which was touching and joyous and beautiful and perhaps another dozen adjectives. But I am thinking of more than yesterday - for ten years, my work with you, friends, has been quite a party. I am grateful beyond words. I tried to express that yesterday, but maybe that is what beyond words means. No matter what I say or how many words come out of my mouth, it fails to convey the depth of what I feel. But let me give it one more shot in this last Wanderings.
First, I am going to set-out some boundaries and rules – I shall not name names. Yes, I was aware of the numbers of people in the building last week: setting up tables, putting on tablecloths, washing dishes, gathering food, decorating and more. I caught glimpses of the sneaking around getting old photos and contacting friends from way back. I overheard some prep for pieces of my favorite music. And more. I may not have had the whole thing figured out, but I caught glimpses of what was happening out and about. But I shall not name names, not so much out of the fear of leaving one name off (which is a worry), but because I have only so much space here. And as I say, my deep gratitude is for yesterday, but even more, for a decade. I know who you are and what you have done for me – recently and for a long time. Thank-you.
Second, I am going to name names. I cannot imagine being blessed by better colleagues. Casey has been a remarkable partner for the entirety of my time here. I came to have confidence in her early on as someone who would trust my impulses for worship and whose instincts I could trust as well. Her passion, creativity and good spirit have been a blessing. Charles came to help me go on sabbatical without too many anxieties, and apparently, he hasn’t found the door out of the building yet. His constant question to me is always, You need anything from me? He has met every want and more. Connie comes in each week and takes care of all things financial– and by all, I mean ALL. It is a tight ship she runs, but she has even forgiven me for a few lost receipts over the years. These three have been more than colleagues – one of the few descriptions I would put above the respectful colleagues is the warm friends. Casey, Charles, and Connie are friends.
I have shared this office with other colleagues through the years, and I have been blessed by a never-ending line of Board Chairs, Officers, Elders, Deacons, Committee Heads, and wonderful people who have shouldered our ministry and served Christ through our common life. I am back to not naming names, but my life is richer for each and every one of you.
Okay – a couple more names. It meant everything to have Kristen and Jeff in for the day; Ryan and Ali tuned in from 1,700 miles west. I hope my children can say that having ministers for parents has not ruined their lives, but I know there have been some days that were bewildering. Plus, they were shamefully ignored for an entire month before all of their formative Christmases. I love these four young people, and the last thing you should want is for me to begin talking about how proud I am of the people they are – you won’t be able to shut me up. And Linda. We were each ministers when we married, which has made for an odd personal/professional stew. I would never have wanted for my work to overshadow hers, but you know her well enough to grasp that such a concern was never well-founded. She has been a Christian educator, church musician, ecumenist, health care advocate, and servant of those who are poor or homeless. I cannot conceive of my ministry apart from hers. She is the love of my life, and I know that the smartest thing I have ever done is say Yes when she proposed to me.
This has become way too long, dear friends, but this is what is on my heart on this last day as your Minister. I look forward to continuing to share life and faith with you in the years to come – in a different role, but as authentically as ever. And may God bless us with something to laugh about.
Blessings and Peace,
These thoughts and reflections come from our Senior Minister, Minister of Music and Board Chair. We hope that they provide both challenge and inspiration for your spiritual life.