Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
A new year is upon us once again, a time for looking at the past and planning and dreaming of the future. The past year, 2020, although it seemed to begin ok, was hard and full of disappointments. In February we began hearing about a new disease and by March we were forced to think of different ways to gather for worship as the disease had become a deadly epidemic and found its way to New Hampshire.
While not perfect, Zoom gave us a way to be together for worship and meetings. When summer arrived, we were able to be together by having worship outside. I truly enjoyed “worship on the lawn” and being out under the sky. Even the weather seemed to cooperate as we did not have to switch to back to Zoom because of rain! We continued to meet outdoors until the Fall, when it finally became to cold to meet in this way. We were able to meet in the sanctuary for one Sunday before the Covid numbers in Concord became too high for it to be safe. Once again, we turned to Zoom as a place for us to be together. While I agree that it is not the same – not at all – at least we are able to see each other, hear each other and speak to each other in real time. I too look forward to the day when we can once again gather in the sanctuary for worship and then gather together for coffee hour – in person. That was the past….what about the future?
Well, for now and the foreseeable future, we continue to meet on Zoom. We are all getting better at it and it seem to feel less disconnected each week. One of my dreams for the future is of the day when those who want to be are vaccinated and we can gather together again. As we look to the future, we need to keep in mind that we are moving through an interim process.
The council is well into the process of reviewing the by-laws and the hope is that they will be ready by our annual meeting in February. Once we get the by-laws done, we can move on to the next piece of interim time – looking at our past and visioning our future. While this is something best done in person, unless things change dramatically, we will have to meet via Zoom as we go through this vitally important piece. We look at our past by sharing experiences of West Church, telling stories so as to pass them on, and looking closely at the history of the West Church. We do this because it is important to learn about and experience our past so that we can look to the future with clear vision. We vision our future together because this helps us learn what we need as a congregation. We will meet to do this (probably via Zoom, sigh) and share our thoughts, dreams and visions. Where do we see ourselves in 3, 5, 10 years? What are our plans and dreams around this vision? Can we map out a path to get there? Finally, we ask ourselves what qualities will our next pastor need so that they fit into our vision of West Church?
All that we have learned from our meetings, storytelling, discussions and visioning will go to the Profile Committee. This committee will be made of a diverse selection of those of you who call West Church home. Together we will decide how big this committee should be and who will be on it. The Profile Committee will work with a consultant from the NH Conference to build a profile which will be then made available to interested clergy. A Search Committee will be chosen in the same way as the Profile Committee. They will also work with a consultant from the Conference as well as receive the profiles from them and then interview clergy seeking to become the next pastor. If this seems like quite a process...well, it is. However, it is important that it happens. While the future is not known to anyone, this process helps as a church moves forward.
My own vision for the future of West is that we are able to once again be together, enjoying each other. My hope is that the rest of the interim process goes quickly and smoothly. Myi prayer is that each of you and all your loved ones are able to remain healthy until we can be together.
I will not be able to update this message for a few months. On January 19 I am having surgery on my hand (again...sigh) as the surgery from last summer did not work. I will be in a cast and unable to type for a while. I will still be leading worship at 10 a.m. every Sunday via Zoom. Know that as always, I hold all of you in prayer. May 2021 be a year of healing and blessing for all.
(Rev. Dr. Rhonda MacLeod--Interim Pastor)