Dear Western Friends,
Greetings as we approach Pentecost, the season we remember God’s gift of power in the form of the wind and flame of the Holy Spirit. On a Sunday when we remember all the disciples gathered in one place, it remains a difficult reality that we are still in many places. In the midst of conversations about reopening and remembrance of the 100,000 who have died in this pandemic, in particular those who were part of our congregation, we want to let you know where things stand for our church.
First, thank you for your continued generosity and support of Western’s ministry and mission. Your on-line giving has helped to keep us strong, and your support of special offerings for Miriam’s Kitchen, Calvary Women’s Services, Sanctuary DMV and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance totaled over $4,500. Your contributions to our congregational fund help us support each other during these challenging times. Thank you for helping us to make a difference where it is needed most.
In terms of our foreseeable future as a congregation, given current recommendations for risk management and physical precautions, Western Church will continue our current level of operations. This means we are not yet ready to move towards re-opening our building. The Session has decided to continue with on-line worship, with an eye to improving our tech capability. Our choir met virtually on Saturday, recognizing that it will be a long time before they or we sing together in one place. As we do each summer, we’ll move to a 10 am worship service in June. In the long term, we are working towards a “hybrid” worship service, with options for both on-line and in-person worship.
In terms of our general building usage, Miriam’s Kitchen continues to use our outdoor space on the Virginia Avenue side. Our office administrator Shenella McGaskey is in the office on weekday mornings, although the office remains closed to anyone outside of essential operations. For the safety and health of all, the building remains closed for other users.
Our church community continues to thrive on-line. Free Inquiry classes, Tuesday evening chats and meditation with Kathy Hankins, Crosslinks young adults, Faith/Feminism/Friendship book groups, and the anti-racism group are in progress. The Children’s/Family Ministry Team is meeting to plan upcoming programs, and conversation about a bible study is underway. If you are interested in starting an on-line opportunity, please be in touch!
Our deacons – past and present – and Revs. Irene and Phil Bennett have been leading “Connect” groups. They are also coordinating some meal support for GWU hospital staff and other congregational needs.
Throughout this time, Western has remained strong in so many ways, but particularly in leadership. As we look to the future, we need to elect a 2020 nominating committee, who will be responsible for discerning our next year’s class of church officers. We also need to amend our church bylaws to allow for meetings by electronic means.
Our congregational meeting to vote on those two items will take place following worship this Sunday, May 31. For those members who join Zoom by dial-in, you can vote by voice by dialing *6 to unmute yourself, or you may vote online on Saturday, May 30 using the form available on our church website.
Between now and then, we encourage you to continue to hold Western Church, our mission and ministry, our staff and leaders, our congregation and friends, our present and future, in your thoughts and prayers. May Pentecost bring the renewal of the Spirit again, to you, your dear ones, and to a world that still needs the Spirit’s power.
May the Peace of Christ be with you,
Laura Cunningham Rebecca Jackson
Pastor/Head of Staff Clerk of Session