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Steeple Newsletter

A Snapshot of Ministry in the Days of COVID

These days have been anything but quiet. For all of the lovely cards texts and e-mails we have received as well as prayers raised pledges offered and time given the clergy and staff of First Church say “Thank you!”

by The Rev. Dr. Ginger Brasher-Cunningham on July 15, 2020

A Snapshot of Ministry in the Days of COVID

Church Family 

Like many of you we are ready to gather again but our time has not yet come. However we do have two outside events planned for the last Sunday of July and the last Sunday of August. We are intentionally moving towards a slow and thoughtful return as we listen carefully to the CDC United Church of Christ town officials risk analysis experts and our community. There are several websites you can consult to appreciate the complications of gathering in the sanctuary or even scattered about the Memorial Garden. First Church clergy and staff are diligently planning the next step as we consult a plethora of sources of information.  

In our day to day ministry life at various times we the clergy staff and a few office volunteers enter the Spencer House. We spray alcohol on doorknobs and light switches separate into our designated spaces and if we cross paths we make sure we are distanced and masked. Everything is multi-layered and takes longer. For the sake of space this article does not include all the aspects of our induvial and collective ministries in these days. Many days we address each matter as it arrives hence a snapshot.

Ginger and Jake rotate working on sermon preparation and have invited a few guest preachers into the mix too. Both have office hours by phone. Ginger has made emergency pastoral visits from sidewalks front yards or on church grounds. She chairs the Church and Ministry Committee for the New Haven East Consociation by Zooming with the committee students seeking ordination as well as with core teams about sensitive matters. She has also planned joint distanced gatherings with the priests from the Catholic and Episcopal churches. 

Jake has worked with the new church management system volunteers provided orientation for our new finance manager Annemarie and redesigned our website working with Chuck Ramsey as he concludes his time managing our website. Jake is our new webmaster as well as The Steeple Newsletter editor and designer. After Stephen Hegedus and others record Sunday’s worship elements Jake complies the service elements from various venues and times. He works with Amanda Patrick on the Facebook page and spends a great deal of time in tech mode. Jake is also working with Judi Wallace on Confirmation plans for 2020-2021. 

Technology has become a huge part of church life. Ginger and Jake Unfiltered airs on Facebook live most Wednesdays at noon. Bill Speed plays Thirty Minutes of Joy on Thursdays at noon. Judi Wallace zooms with Pilgrim Fellowship leaders and students Wednesday evenings and with Sunday School parents children and teachers. Sandra meets (masked) with those in our wider community seeking secured living situations. On a weekly basis staff meet via Zoom to discuss the scripture music and theme for the service. Each staff person is inundated with email and spends extra hours with all things technology.

Judi’s days include maintaining contact with PF students many who are struggling with the isolation and distance learning communicating about cancellations of events chasing refunds coordinating safe volunteer opportunities/events organizing the PF leadership team application process phone interviews and training plans  communicating with families and children through email letter writing and phone calls the CE weekly newsletter the CE committee planning and implementing parent networking opportunities via zoom cleaning church school rooms and supplies going through children's library and creating a new lending library with books about many of the justice issues in the world today planning and recording 10:16 Moments budgeting  for 2021 for PF and CE and maintaining the PF Facebook page and Instagram social media accounts.

Bill’s life is full of technology also. He is learning how best to share large video use iMovie Adobe Audition and Adobe Premiere to edit audio and video fix problems with audio and video empower volunteers to make music for virtual worship which includes suggesting pieces arranging for their voice or instrument if necessary setting up rehearsal time preparing and sanitize space for distanced music-making recording uploading and keeping abreast of current medical/ denominational/ music association recommendations on what is safe and what is unknown about COVID-19 dangers in making music in church.

For these days Penelope has extended her job description to include receiving and counting pledges as well as maintaining the Landmark with Jeannie Cacopardo. Penelope schedules and reschedules answers an abundance of questions and sends out weekly sermons and worship services by mail to those without technology.

Sandra has been busy with those released from prison and assisting Peace Affirmation and Justice Team with supplying needed items. She continues to offer support to many of our siblings living on the margins.

Mark has finished renovating both restrooms in Fellowship Hall restored some of the Spencer House gables painted halls and offices built cabinets and shelves organized storage and . . . you get the idea.

A host of volunteers have followed precautions while working on the Memorial Garden and in the Raymond Jones Memorial Communal Garden. Please walk through both. 

Special thanks to Mark Debbie Peluse Mary Jane Potter and Susan Leete for a complete renovation of the Finance Office. Bill Bailey has welcomed Annemarie and is assisting with her orientation.

These days have been anything but quiet. For all of the lovely cards texts and e-mails we have received as well as prayers raised pledges offered and time given the clergy and staff of First Church say “Thank you!”

We hold you in our hearts and in our prayers. Please lean into patience as the days ahead unfold. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me.” May it be so.

In hope and with peace

Ginger Jake Judi Bill Sandra Penelope Mark and Annemarie

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