It was a real joy to greet at least 126 of our Grace folks for “Walk-through Worship” yesterday…The renovation is 99% finished and the reactions were very gratifying!
Almost everyone, young, old and in-between came for communion and reported feeling very safe with the precautions that were taken: masks, physical distance and only Pastor V handling the bread and small wine glasses.
Other treats included: the chance to tour the basement and balcony, use the elevator, and hear the choir on our new AV system. David on the organ and Jenny Fritsch on her flute played live music that included both contemplative and festive selections.
Our Return to Worship Team has already met to reflect on the day and plan our next steps. It may seem easy to move from this walk-through experience to a more normal service, but planning for a larger group to be together all at once is more complicated and potentially riskier.
Here are some details about how we envision worship together safely and meaningfully:
· No sermon or singing at church…Pastor V’s weekly worship videos will continue.
· Music, prayer and Holy Communion will be offered in the Nave with precautions similar to this past Sunday, at 8am and 11am.
· Despite all the space in the Nave, only 64 individuals can sit there following guidelines. Please call the office (397-2748) or email email@example.com with your reservation.
We have completed our first two full weeks of our learning pod so let me tell you what’s been happening!
We now have 20 students, 18 between Kindergarten and 5th grade. The Kindergarten and 1st graders are more challenging since they require more help staying focused, understanding directions, keeping their masks on their faces, coming with their IPADs charged, remembering their charger, etc.
Most of our students are from immigrant families, including Norbert from our own faith family, and they have different and complicated schedules. Through much negotiation we have whittled out 25 minutes where we can all go to the little rolling hill park (the old Y parking lot) for recess.
We have had much contact and support from the Ross elementary school principal, social worker and guidance counselor. They are all so happy that we are supporting the children in this way.
A 5th grader who has already warmed our hearts stated at the end of the first day, “I’m so happy!” When asked why he replied, “because this was a great day”. Side note: He also was the one who came with his mother last week to check out the situation and looked at our ceiling pods with the cool pipes and old boards showing in between and said: “whew, you guys still have a lot of work to do to get this place ready”.
We have a wonderful and dedicated head teacher, Andrea Carty who came to us from “The New School” and her daughter Victoria (a junior at F&M college) as paid staff.
There are a number of volunteers helping the Pod. Patti Hartman and Vicki Mumma are helping with clerical tasks and shopping for the many supplies needed to assist the teachers and students. Mary Gentzler, Erin Longenecker, Stacie Main, Jade Mumma, and Susanna (a parent from Buchanan) are volunteering their precious time and energy to assist student with their work. Cindy Holden (a friend of mine) is helping lead physical activity time and has also decided to help in the classroom.
We initially thought that we would be open from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, but then realized with all of the virtual schedules, children would be missing out on their afternoon class time. In response we decided we could expand to 2 pm when the virtual learning day finishes for all the students.
Our Community Connections:
Andrea Carty and her daughter are members of the Lancaster Friends Meeting House (Quakers) who are excited to help support our pod in various ways including financial support. We also reached out to St. James Episcopal, LCBC, Good Shepherd Lutheran, Otterbein United Methodist and other congregations in hopes they will either sponsor a student or donate in some way. Pastor and Jane created an additional line item under the Give button on our website so people can give to the learning pod, as requested by “the Friends”.
We have also reached out to the School District of Lancaster who have agreed to include some of our budget requests on their application for CARE funds, allocated to our county, and given out by our county commissioners.
A big thank you to all who have donated or contributed in some way – there are so many of you. An even bigger thank you to the congregation for allowing us to use this beautifully renovated space.
Please pray for the continued success of these children, the Dove Pod and the volunteers working to support them.
In Peace and Hope,
Lutheran World Relief
LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF INGATHERING IS ON it is set for October 3-4!
We have decided to do only Personal Care and Fabric Kits this year and not ask members to search stores for school supplies to make School Kits. A very generous member of Grace has donated money to buy the fabric and thread that is needed. Next year we will make more of these kits. Thank you!
You can be on the lookout for the items needed to make the Personal Care Kits and make them at home as you are able. Here is what is needed for Personal Care Kits and the instructions for packaging:
· One light-weight bath size towel (between 20” x 40” and 52” x 27”), dark color
· Two or three bath-size bars of soap equaling 8 to 9 oz, any brand, in original wrapping*
· One adult-size toothbrush in its original wrapping
· One sturdy comb, remove packaging
· One metal nail clippers (attached file optional), remove packaging
Fold the towel in half width-wise. Place the rest of the items in the towel, fold and roll so nothing falls out, and secure with yarn, ribbon, string or rubber bands. Kits can be dropped off at the Church Office.
Fall Small Groups
You’re Invited On a Book Journey!
Join our small group A Tapestry of Pages, which begins Tuesday September 29 at 2PM. Our first book is I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown. In this book Brown discusses the challenges of being an African-American woman in the settings of church and religious non-profits. We’ll discuss racial diversity in our lives, what it means to belong, our hopes for the future, and how we can create real change! If you are interested in joining this study please let Angie (firstname.lastname@example.org) know ASAP so she can send you the ZOOM invite and the discussion questions. You are responsible for having your own copy of the book. They are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your local independent bookstore. For the first session please read chapters one and two.
You’re Invited to Afghanistan!
Join our small group Gather: Afghanistan 2020 where we will explore the history, culture, and current events of Afghanistan. This three week session begins the week of October 5. We will be using resources from Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service to study the refugee situation in Afghanistan. Our time together “equips families, congregations, and community groups with tools to learn about the history of conflict in Afghanistan, explore the culture through worship, food, and music, and learn more about LIRS’ work through the story of the Abdullah family.” The first week will look at the history of conflict in Afghanistan, the second week will focus on the culture of Afghanistan, and the third week will focus on advocacy. If you are interested in participating in this group please contact Angie (email@example.com) ASAP with days and times you would be able to meet via Zoom.
October 4, 2020 (18th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 22, Year A)
“Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.” – Matthew 21:43
Ouch! Jesus’ words, directed at the Pharisees who constantly test him, point to the importance of bearing fruit. God promises an abundant harvest with more than enough to share, but we must do our part to cultivate, nurture, and bring to fullness all the bountiful gifts of God, both in our own lives and in the Body of Christ.
Our Grace Family
Congratulations to Meghan Kelly and Donnell Butler married on Friday, September 25, 2020 at Long Park with Pastor Verkouw presiding.
Congratulations to Esther Verkouw and Joel Villa-García on their engagement.