CCP SESSION NOTES TO THE CONGREGATION – June 2021
Session paused to reflect on our experiences during the pandemic. Mary Beth led Session Study using questions from Courtney Martin’s “Gifts of a Smaller Life” to share our thoughts. Several noted the gifts of Zoom to the congregation, fostering relationships in worship, meditation groups, book groups and several of us noted a surprising kind of intimacy on Zoom. Was it seeing the faces? Or deeper sharing? Or greater need to connect?
We also noted growing awareness of systemic racism after the murder of George Floyd, heightened through book groups, racial justice conversations as well as a deeper recognition of the fragility of democracy and the need to be involved in creating better systems. Virginia underscored the opportunity to make an impact as a citizen in multiple ways, including the excellent work VIA is doing.
Al reported that we continue to be in good health financially. Virginia updated us on Faith in Action, with the sad news that the Northern Lights program has not been funded and will close. Ann Owen will continue to provide clothing/vouchers for women being released from the correctional facility, but a number of programs have been impacted by COVID, so this will take some sorting out in the months ahead. Several CCP folks (Virginia, Frank, Deborah, David, Sue, Valerie and Mary Beth) are involved with VIA’s Racial Justice Work which is in the research phase. Virginia is involved with the Affordable Housing group and Sue continues to work with the St. Paul’s VIA group looking at Correctional Reform. Virginia highlighted the value of Director Debbie Ingram’s knowledge and experience with state legislative processes and Deputy Director Melissa Battah’s connections in Montpelier.
Vacation scheduling for our preaching team resulted in an opportunity for Kristabeth to offer “From Hurt to Hope: A Four-Part Sermon Series for Times Like These”. It’s provided a good chance to reflect on our pandemic experience and other experiences of suffering moving from these traumatic experiences to hope; it has been very well-received. Sunday, June 27 after worship, we celebrated Sophia and her outstanding work with us as she moves on to a full-time career position as Executive Director of the Milton Family Center. Adina Gordon has joined us as Church Administrator and is making this a wonderfully smooth transition.
As reported over the last few months, Session has continued to discuss plans for re-gathering, given multiple considerations of our situation. Since May, state restrictions have been lifted, and Episcopal diocesan guidance has been updated. St. Paul’s will be doing a soft opening in August with regular indoor services planned. Session has sent a questionnaire to the CCP community to get a sense of how our current Zoom gatherings and pastoral arrangements have been working for individuals. Additionally, we are interested in your thoughts about regathering in person—as well as a new way to gather for potlucks to make them more inclusive and “mix it up” a bit. As mentioned in our email communication, our conversations have focused on a possible hybrid model, to accommodate the range of needs in our congregation. This model will require technology tools and technical expertise, so, of course, financial and human resource questions are part of this equation– as well as other accommodations that might be necessary. You received our questionnaire in an email from CCP dated June 28. Please be sure to send your thoughts by the July 6 deadline as this will greatly help in our planning.
Lots to think about as we continue to consider how we move forward as a Beloved Community in challenging times!
Mary Beth Barritt