"Simon Says"  

Greetings my kinfolk in Christ, My beloved brothers and sisters of the Holy Spirit!

            This has been an unusual time for all of us, and I want to say that we have been admirable here in Tomah generally, and our family at First Congregational UCC more specifically. I have talked to many of you either directly or indirectly over the past 6-8 weeks and have been encouraged by the number of things that I have heard about. People are staying connected to each other even in the face of social distancing. We’ve also had about 26 accounts (so closer to 50 people) watching our virtual worship services on Sunday, via Facebook and YouTube. I have been encouraged to hear from so many of you that the services have been well received. I encourage you to share the services on social media so that we can share our joy with others.

            People are still volunteering, in safe ways. We served almost 200 meals at the mobile community table earlier this month, and the need has grown.  They are looking to serve 250+ in the coming weeks. Given the costs of buying meals, we may be looking at financially supporting another meal, however that will depend on community resources. We have made masks! In the initial lead up to all of this, it was clear that we all had many talents. Many of our sewers have answered the call, whether they were made for distribution to Tomah Health or the Health department, we have had an amazing response to the call and have answered admirably.

           We have been faithful in our giving. I am blown away by the generosity of everyone in the congregation, given the economic realities many of us are currently facing, we are in no danger of cutting out any ministries. As you saw above, we still have active ministries that we can and need to support. Our worship is ongoing and our commitments to find new ways to bring the light of God to the world are important, even in these times. We are committed to seeking ways to expanding our offerings going forward.  Expect to see virtual fellowship time following worship on Sundays as well as book studies and fellowship groups meeting virtually via Zoom.

            We will be together again. This has been a difficult couple of months; however, as I knew we would, we have met every challenge and unusual situation with a willingness and a resourcefulness that has kept us all connected in this time. I am appreciative for everyone’s willingness to try new things in our worship together, no one expected online worship to be how we met this year, but here we are. When we begin in person worship, if someone believes continuing the videos is their calling and passion, contact me and we can discuss how that can happen. I expect that when gatherings of 50 are allowed we will begin to open the sanctuary for worship.

           Looking to the future, we will be organizing our annual spring cleanup when the exterior of the church has been completed. This is an annual tradition- one we are all looking forward to as it will, even more than normal, signify a renewal and rebirth in our midst. Additionally, as soon as we are comfortable with in person worship, we will look to plan a Sesquicentennial celebration. 2019 was the congregation’s 150th year. We did not have the opportunity to celebrate it. We will not miss out on this milestone, whether this summer or next, it is our intention to celebrate this milestone in our church life.

            As we seek to share the light of Christ with others, we will continue to follow the guidelines by local and national health officials and protect those who are most vulnerable to this disease. It is a painful calling, but a calling of love to which we must respond.

          Yours in God’s Love and Light, Pastor Bryan