Letter from the Church Council

“Out of Hiding”

Every month, someone on Council is designated to write the Letter from Council. The main intent of this “letter” is to be a way of communicating to the congregation about what is happening in Council as we serve you. When I agreed to do this for February I asked if anyone could suggest a theme. “Out of hiding” was the thought given. It has been a full three years since the world first became aware of a newly mutated coronavirus, COVID 19, which was very contagious and could cause death or long-term disability, especially to the most vulnerable. Even while spreading worldwide, we thought it would be over in just a short while: before the realization began to hit that this was a long-haul problem, not something that would quickly disappear. Despite complete lock-downs in many parts of the world, a very conservative estimate of the death toll from covid is 6.74 million. We, at ACC, closed our church for a time before cautiously starting some things up again.

Now 3 years later, are we “coming out of hiding”? Were we ever “in hiding” or were we rather “sheltering in place”? I believe we were all encouraged and supported through reading the Bible and verses such as Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified: do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Or Psalm 91: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

At our Council meetings, the topic of COVID has been on our agenda every month for three years. And for the past many months, the minutes say “no changes to health protocols needed”. We are coming out from under God’s sheltering wing for this particular hazard. All our worship services and programs have resumed. Things are returning to “normal”, including, hopefully, generating enough offering income so that we can give more externally to those most in need.

Normal means ‘conforming to a type, standard or regular pattern: characterized by that which is considered usual, typical or routine’. So often, especially in 2021, I read commentaries and editorials hoping that as we went back to ‘normal’, that it would be a different, better ‘normal’. That the long periods of separation from others would give us time as individuals and communities and countries to be more self-evaluating, reflective and contemplative. That this would force us to reconsider who we are and what we value, and in the long run, rediscover the better version of ourselves. That we would be far more aware of our interdependency and interconnectedness as a global society; and that our encroachment and destruction of God’s natural world has far-reaching and devasting consequences. That the world would be a kinder, gentler place; and we, a kinder gentle people. Looking worldwide, I am not so sure that this is the case.

So, we need to look at ourselves, and our own church. We should ask ourselves as we return to ‘normal’: Are we a kinder, gentler church? Are we more inclusive and inviting and interconnected; more forgiving and giving; more hopeful and helpful; more grateful and generous? Are we more open to sharing God’s grace and peace, and more willing to speak to others about our own experiences of God’s love, trustworthiness and faithfulness? Are we? With God’s grace through Christ Jesus and with the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray we are.

~ Susan Simonson