Dear People of Good Shepherd,
On May 23 we will celebrate Pentecost. We remember the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church two thousand years ago. Throughout the pandemic, we have been reminded the church is not a building. Church is the people, the commu- nity enlivened by the Spirit and sustained by Word and Sacrament. The church is the family of God.
We are the church. And so the church has never been closed during COVID-19. It has been dis- persed. Socially distanced. But the Spirit has ensured that we remained together, connected, even while apart.
The return to in-person worship and the celebration of Holy Eucharist feels like a homecoming, a family reunion. We reminisce, we share the struggles of the past year, and we insist that not as much time will pass until we see each other again.
This summer we want to be the church together. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day (May 30-September 5) we will hold one service of Holy Eucharist on Sundays at 10:00 am. Afterwards, we will have Coffee in the Courtyard (and Popsicles on the Playground!). The service will include music and will be live streamed. We understand that not everyone is ready or able to attend in person but, for those who are, it is our hope that one service will strengthen the bonds of the Spirit within our church and the larger community.
Social distancing and mask protocols must still be followed during indoor worship, whether or not you are vaccinated. Outdoors, however, we can more safely socialize and remove masks dur- ing Coffee Hour. The online sign-ups are at the same link online every week; the form includes a new question about seating preference. While we cannot guarantee seats in the church, due to limited capacity, we do hope to be able to accommodate your preference more often than not.
I will also be sending a survey this month inquiring about your worship experience, whether in person or online. The struggles and disappointments are real. We hope you will entrust us with them while also sharing feedback and ideas of how we have been (or might be) able to meaning- fully connect.
In late summer, the Bishop is scheduled to visit Good Shepherd on August 22. This will be Bish- op Andrew’s final time among us prior to his retirement at the end of the year. Please save the date and plan to be here. Episcopal visitations (visits from the bishop) are the customary time for people to be confirmed, received, or reaffirm their baptismal vows.
Confirmation is a mature, public affirmation of one’s faith and a renewed commitment to the re- sponsibilities of baptism. Reception is for those who have been confirmed in another tradition/ denomination and wish to be received in the Episcopal Church. Reception is not a rejection of one’s previous affiliation but an opportunity to be embraced by the Episcopal or Anglican tradi- tion. People can also prepare for Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows. Any baptized Christian might choose reaffirmation to mark a new or renewed commitment to their faith and spiritual for- mation.
If you are interested in (or curious about) any of the above, please contact me. Preparation classes would begin in June and would be scheduled at a mutually convenient time for all. I also hope to lead a class on Hope and Grief that is intended for anyone who has experienced a loss of any kind and wishes to reflect on his/her experience of grief and sources of hope.
We are the church. We are enlivened by the Spirit of God and sustained by God’s Word and Sac- raments. We are a people who know love and loss, grief and hope. We are a family reunited and renewing our commitments.