A great story in middle of the covid 19 crisis

This story was shared in a pastor’s facebook group by a pastor-colleague who is in a very unique church plant in Tucson Arizona. He has given permission given to reshare it. It is a story of God and the church at work “especially” in a time of crisis. Here goes:

Mandy started coming to the Village six months ago. She is from Wuhan and is a student at the university here in Tucson. She visited her parents during the holiday break with the intention of explaining the gospel to them because “they just don’t understand its importance” and she had asked me to pray that God would give her words to say and opportunities to say them. Of course, I prayed. When she returned and cleared quarantine she excitedly told me how first her father, and later her mother, had prayed with her and how they had thanked her profusely for telling them about God. She was overjoyed.

My wife is a wound care nurse at the Veterans Hospital and I recently posted about the shortage of masks the hospital faced and the impact on my wife who gets one mask a day. It is a difficult and dangerous time. Mandy messaged me and said, “Pastor Rod, I read what you wrote about the mask shortage. I’m praying for your wife. My parents were very concerned about me and sent me some washable masks to wear. God told me I should share some with your wife. I want her to be safe and for you to be safe because your prayers for me have been so powerful and the Village Church has meant so much to me and to people like my parents who desperately need the gospel.”

We arranged to have her hand them to me in the parking lot of her apartment complex. She included hand sanitizer and cleansers in the bag with a written prayer asking God’s protection over us.

I sat in the parking lot after she left and sobbed at the beauty of her offering.

Introducing my video channel

I have made a short introduction video for my youtube channel as Pastor Pete which you can see here:

Intro

The main purpose of the channel is to communicate via selective audience broadcast with the congregation I am currently serving, motivated by the changed world caused by covid 19 and physical distancing. It is an attempt to keep social distance to a minimum. Beyond that maybe one day to put things I used to do as blog post teachings related to my work as a Specialized Transitional Minister up for quick reference.

I also made a video message that is directed specifically to the congregation at this time. That one can be seen here:

When I create a video on the channel, I have choices about how accessible they will be. So there might be a lot of videos on the channel that can only be seen if you have been given the specific link. Some will be public. There should be a way to subscribe to the video channel, but I haven’t worked that out yet. For now, any videos made for CCC will be posted here as links like above.

Articles by colleagues

John Van Sloten is a CRC pastor who was installed as the new pastor at the Calgary RCA last week. This is an article he wrote:

http://www.christiancourier.ca/news/entry/the-parable-of-covid-19

In the course of a normal day I get about 10 to 30 article links sent to me by my denomination and other services I am subscribed to. Most of these I at least give a start to reading, and if they don’t grab my attention I move on. Each day, maybe two feel important or significant, yet I refrain from sharing them lest readers are overwhelmed. The one linked below is already two weeks old, but is still very relevant, and the more time goes by, it is clear it was prescient as well:

https://journal.praxislabs.org/love-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-26aaeb0396e3

Report on Just The Categories the Congregational Input Suggested

An interim summing report by Pastor Pete February 2020

In Town Hall #6 we began some brainstorming about ways the church can connect to the community. A few more ideas were added via the Writing Wall and the congregational Survey. I took each idea or phrase and started collecting those which had similar themes into groups. Over time, it became clear what the common overall theme of the grouping was, so then I gave them titles. 

Just so you know, the lists that will eventually be under the topics focus on specifics. General comments such as: “we should be more involved in the community” are reflected in the category title. Also, comments that were more editorial or opinion without specifics are not reflected here either. So, here are, for now, just the titled categories that surfaced, and a single sentence description of the kind of items that will be found in the list:

Doing Outreach-oriented activities to make connections & relationships

(there is a long list of suggested activities, including volunteering and other ways of getting involved in the community, like working more closely with the preschool, etc.)

Becoming a Community Hub – a natural place for communal activities

(there is a long list of suggested activities, like offering sports, or summer camps and setting up a community garden)

Opening up the building to community activities 

  1. That others run

(there is a long list of suggested ways of doing this and agencies to approach, like AA or other groups, having another congregation use the building, etc)

Opening up the building to community activities 

  1. That We run:

(there is a list of suggested activities, several pointing to the “7 mile story” event as an example)

Do Something with the Property Itself

(there is a short list of suggested activities, most in a sort of “development” direction, like seeing if an agency needs a place to build housing, or selling off part of the property)

We have also done some brainstorming about ways the church can grow and help the community grow. Here are the two categories that became apparent:

Offer Educational / Growth opportunities

For ourselves

(there is a list of suggested activities like Faithwalking, CLC, discipleship and spiritual disciplines training, youth mentoring etc.)

Offer Educational / growth opportunities

For the community

(there is a list of suggestions here as well, mainly in the direction of seminars and workshop offerings on practicalities like Finances, Relationships etc.)

NEXT STEPS

One of our next steps will be to give you an opportunity to indicate which category you feel should be a priority in turning our New Vision into actions. Along with that, you will be given an opportunity to indicate the same for specific action items within a category. That part of the report is still being developed. For now it felt right to make you aware of the categories in a general way.

Pastor Pete’s Summary Report on the congregation’s input on the Vision / Values Survey

This will be emailed to members as well. It is an up-to-date written version of what Elder Christo Rust presented at the Town Hall meeting.

Pastor Pete, Feb 26, 2020

A HUGE thanks to Rob and Audrey for compiling this, and a second MASSIVE gratitude to the participants at CCC who took this seriously and gave it prayer and time and thought and expression. This report is a public one for the congregation to follow the one Christo gave at the Town Hall.

INDICATIONS / VOTES INDICATING PREFERRED VISION

I’ll start with an overall perspective. Christ Community Church has some 77 congregants on record. This includes children and some who are unable to participate due to age or infirmity. Average attendance in our worship services is 44 individuals. Thirty Eight (38) people responded to the survey! For a process in which participation is voluntary, that level of engagement is amazing and encouraging. Also, participants included seniors, young adults, singles, married, members, adherents, regular and occasional attendees — a very good cross section!

Now for a  simple numeric summary. I am grateful it was all quite clear.

Regarding the New Vision (developed in a Town Hall and consistory retreat process)

“Where Church and Community Connect and Grow”

21 people indicated the new statement is their strong favourite, 

13 indicated they support it and

No one registered a voice against it.

Regarding the Current Vision (adopted in 2004)

“To Know Christ More Fully and To Make Him Known”

8 people indicated this statement as the one they favour most, 

21.5 identified they supported it, and 

2.5 did not support it at all.

Concluding Vision 

“Stay the course with an orderly winding down”

One person supported this as the best option, 

10 said they had support for it, often with qualifiers

23 said that is not an option they want at all.

What you collectively said:

Here is what is abundantly clear, 

  1. The Concluding Vision is not to be considered. 
  2. The Current Vision is “OK” or middle of the road, with some objections, and 
  3. the New Vision is very strongly supported with no opposing opinions at all.

CONSIDERING THE BACKGROUND COMMENTS

People were given space to comment on why they made the choice they did. Below is a very abbreviated general sense of these comments.

Regarding making the New Vision top choice:

Summarizing all comments would be very time consuming, but it feels important to highlight a few things. Several versions of concerns about what I’ll refer to as “watering down” and not mentioning God in the statement were noted. Some comments were positive about the possibilities of this approach. Others named how they saw it was necessary to do this. Tied to that was an awareness that our efforts have been internally focused and need to change. Almost as a counterpoint to the concerns about lack of God language there were a number of comments that pointed out how a vision statement like this is “accessible” and not threatening for non-Christians. In a similar vein, someone wrote of how it is “clear, broad, and easy for everyone to understand and follow.” A couple of comments were along the line of how it has been and might still be challenging for CCC to pull this off.

Regarding making the New Vision a supported choice:

Some of the earlier-mentioned concerns about “watering down” are here as well. One wrote: “This implies Christ in “church” but the body of the church is all about Christ and this vision doesn’t put real emphasis on it.” There was a comment about how the world does not want to commit to Christianity with an implication we should just leave them alone then. Positively, someone liked how the statement was focused externally, and another believes we should be a bigger part of the community.

Regarding making the Current Vision top choice:

Some people saw no difference between the New and the Current. A number liked that this one mentions Christ. One comment pointed out this one covers both our internal and external calling. Someone underscored how “relationship” is really the key.

Regarding the Current Vision a supported choice:

An option to add “in our community” to this one was suggested as an overall solution. It is supported as a good core Biblical, Christ centered vision that just needs better implementation and enthusiasm & urgency. One made it second choice because of the fact it does not mention the community. 

Regarding saying “No” to the Current Vision:

Echoing a bit what was written in the category above, one person here noted we have stagnated under this vision, and we need to find something new.

Regarding the Concluding Vision:

Here there were agonizing pleas for CCC not to close. Realists said it is obvious that if we stay the current course this option is our inevitable actual choice. Optimists thought the current hard times are less hard than past ones, and found leadership to be excessively negative. Some implied that if we can’t agree to a common vision and get on with it, Concluding is a valid option. Another said that if we can’t learn to connect Concluding will be the automatic outcome. An Entrepreneur suggested selling the assets and starting afresh in town. And another Realist wanted us to know that we might lose people who would not agree with a new direction but that we should accept that and carry on with those (even if only 2 or 3) who want to.

Regarding the Values input: Reading all the comments is very helpful. There simply is not time to summarize these, so we want you to know that all current Elders and Deacons have read these and will take them into consideration. 

Regarding the opportunities responses and other suggestions, I (Pastor Pete) am working to incorporate these into the next steps of our public choices process.