"Simon Says"  

My Beloved Kinfolk in Christ,

        What a year it has been! As I am sitting down to write this, it has been almost a year since I began walking with you all in ministry, and while it has been a year no one will ever forget, there were many positive things that I can still look at as we look to the future and look to grow our community involvement and ministries. When I arrived, we had some very good worship services to come together to get to know each other and begin the process of looking at what our ministry together would look like.

Some of the things that we have looked at is how we can reengage the community both directly and indirectly, through a renewed interest from congregation members around environmental issues and social issues, as well as directly through our work with the Tomah Community Table, and beginning to look at other ways we can directly serve our community. I have been encouraged with how many people have been willing to step up and participate, even in spite of the ongoing pandemic. We have served meals much more often than in the past, and I am continually awed by our members’ willingness to do the work that is asked of them. Thank you!

The unique situation we find ourselves in has caused us to revamp how we worship.  We have been online, in-person, and outside. We have worshiped God from our homes, in the park, and in our fellowship hall. We have created a presence on Facebook and YouTube so that people can join us regardless of where or when they can make the time. We have missed one another; we have used the phone to keep in touch, we have mailed countless cards and notes to try to remind people that they are loved even as they may feel isolated and cut off from one another. The constant for these uncertain and unprecedented times is that we have kept on loving one another and supporting one another with our loving prayers. You are prayer warriors and your love has been felt and received!

During this month, we will be launching our stewardship campaign for 2021. Last year, we asked about the various things you wanted to see the church become involved in. We had a ton of good responses, that led to our initial planning of a few big ideas for that.  We haven’t been able to realize those ideas yet, but we expect that we will in the coming years. This year, we will be looking at ways we can live our faith more deeply in our stewardship campaign. What do you want to see the church be involved in? What do you want to study? What can we in church leadership do to help you live out your faith and your life’s calling at times other than Sunday morning or Wednesday night? I need people to help tell the faith journey of this congregation and of themselves, so we can find ways to encourage each other to grow in our faith. We can even do this digitally if you want to help, but are not attending in-person worship just yet. Yes, we will still be sending out pledge cards so that people can practice the spiritual discipline of making a tithe to the church; however, what we give and get from the church goes far beyond our worship services, so let us look at how we can grow those parts of our ministries, even in these times.

I am looking at launching the next leg of small group discussions, this one will be lighter in subject matter as we will look at theological themes running through 3-4 different movies, I will try to pick movies that I already have copies of, or are available free/low cost through popular streaming services. More details will be available soon. I know that this may be a somewhat harder thing for some people to participate in than a book study. We will continue our book studies soon, likely looking at something leading into the advent season. Look for more details next month.

In closing, my dear friends, let me simply say that we have walked a difficult road together this past year; we will not dwell on the difficulties we have already come through. Let us celebrate how far we’ve come, and look to what is next, certain that God’s Love and our Faith will be able to carry us through any new storms. Let us walk together, sharing the burdens as they come, and continually seeking the will and love of God, in ways that are both new and familiar. May it be so, Amen.

                                  Peace and Blessings, Pastor Bryan