Marty Kuchma, Senior Pastor
And so we come to our Summer edition of Highlights. Thanks to our wonderful editor, Renee Fink, for yet another year with a high-quality, first-rate newsletter, compiled and produced each month with professionalism, creativity, and compassion! Thank you also to all who have contributed to Highlights, whether on a regular basis or just episodically. Thanks as well to everyone who has read Highlights or at least scanned portions of it. Honestly, a lot of folks work hard to communicate important things by way of Highlights, “Tidbits,” the Facebook page, the website, the “Things to Know” part of the Sunday bulletins, in-service announcements, bulletin inserts, directed emails, posters and flyers, etc. Amidst all those possibilities, word-of-mouth is undoubtedly the most effec-tive way to communicate. Be sure to do your part. Spread the word!
Looking toward the near future, the following is a collection of things we all might benefit from knowing:
Rev. Erin Snell has been named St. Paul’s Minister of Social Justice. Welcome, Erin, to this new role! Consistory made the decision to officially name Erin to this newly-created volunteer position in recognition of her many years of ordained status and her fierce commitment to social justice, notably in her sustained participation in the leadership of PFLAG and Carroll Citizens for Racial Equality. Erin has also recently become very active in the reboot of Martin Luther King’s Poor Peoples’ Campaign that blends passion for economic and racial justice. In her role as Minister of Social Justice, Erin will serve as a conduit for information and opportunities for the rest of us to constructively engage around pressing issues. Erin will also be a resource if people have ideas for new social justice activities and interests. I am excited to have Erin on board in this new capacity!
A group is now forming to help us celebrate our Tenth Anniversary of becoming Open and Affirming. Can you believe it? Ten years this coming October! So much has happened in that time, and the world continues to become a place where everyone is loved and valued. Yet we are surely not there by any means, and the struggles continue… We will be sure to mark this historic moment well, and to be prepared for the work that still lies ahead.
One aspect of that ongoing work relates to having a Drag Show in Fellowship Hall on July 7. That event will help stretch us just a bit more in terms of our identity as an extravagantly welcoming congregation and establish us even more clearly as a beacon of hope and a place of refuge for LGBTQ people and the broader community.
Also in Fellowship Hall, on Sunday, July 29, at 5:00pm we will be working with the Sunday Night Big Band for our third annual “Christmas in July” concert to benefit Access Carroll by way of Big Band Merry Christmas. This has consistently been a great show. Come on out and enjoy a wonderful event! You might even want to bring your dancing shoes.
And on August 12, we will host an afternoon concert by local blues musician Christopher James and his band. All proceeds from the concert will be used to support the border ministry of Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, Arizona. This is one of the ministries that leaves food and water in the desert for people making perilous passages. This concert will offer great music for yet another great cause.
The long-awaited organ refurbishment is expected to begin during the second week of July and to continue into October. The work will include installing updated technology that will give that old instrument new life. Thanks to all who have contributed to funding this first phase of repairs and renovation! And to Bob Frazee for thoughtfully overseeing and passionately driving this process!
Starting on August 1, we will begin a period that the Worship Creation Team is thinking of as “Forty Days in the Wilderness” during which we will not be using the Sanctuary. From Sunday, August 5 until Sunday, Au-gust 26, we will worship in Fellowship Hall. While this period will overlap with the time the organ is being worked on, it is not necessary that we be out of the Sanctuary. Instead, this will be used as a time to intentionally step out of routines, immerse ourselves in new experiences, and perhaps make new discoveries along the way. On Sunday, September 2, we will, as per usual, worship in Belle Grove Square Park with Westminster Church of the Brethren for Labor Day. Then on Sunday, September 9, we will return at long last to the Sanctuary for our 9:30 Homecoming Service, immediately after which we will have our annual 30/30 Challenge Opportunity Fair in Fellowship Hall. On Sunday, September 16, we will return to two services and regular Sunday School sessions.
Beginning in earnest in September, we will deliberately make our way to become a WISE Congregation, Wel-coming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged with Men-tal Illness. This process will be a central focus through-out the church year. Over the Summer, the WISE Leadership Team will be working on a plan for helping us learn what we need to know and prepare as best we can for what will eventually be a congregational vote on a declarative statement, presumably next Spring, that will be the mechanism by which we officially become a WISE Congregation.
In the midst of all of that and more, I hope that our Summer Travelers will be blessed on their journeys, and that those who are staying close will find enjoy-ment and rewards as well.
Until the next edition of Highlights in early September, be well…