Greetings, Fremont Family:
Happy New Year! Wait, what? It’s almost February, but with insurrection and inauguration, I have hardly had a moment to focus on the incredible promise of this new year. We have so many wonderful things to look forward to together in 2021.
First, we will anticipate adding in-person worship this year. Notice I did not say “return to” in-person worship, because we all know there is no going back. Vaccination is rolling out (albeit very slowly), and there will come a time (June?) when we can gather again safely in the sanctuary, but given all the beauty and wisdom gained from 2020, we will take what we have learned with us into this next season of being church together. Even now, we are preparing for technology upgrades so that we can introduce a “hybrid” style of worship so that if you choose not to be with us in person, you can still be an active part of our worshipping life.
Second, our Ministry Council is already at work. This past Saturday, we had a beautiful 3-hour retreat to listen deeply to Spirit and to one another about where we go from here. We began by immersing ourselves in your combined reflections from January 3 on “the gifts of 2020” and the “invitations for 2021.” Some of the gifts that you named were: patience, simplicity, resilience, meeting neighbors, quality time with family, perseverance, gratitude, repentance, hope. Some of the invitations to move more fully into the neighborhood included: block parties, children’s activities, neighborhood walk-throughs, increased visibility, continued support for Black Lives Matter, community brunches, hospitality “rest stop” style, becoming active in the neighborhood association, and many more.
Finally, our staff began the year by setting goals for 2021. I continue to be amazed at the incredible team of people working on your behalf, and they have big plans for this year. Almost all of them named preparing the space (the office, the music room, the nursery, the children’s classroom) for life together again. We will be clearing out some accumulated “stuff” in the next couple of weeks and preparing to begin again with renewed vision. I shared my goals with the staff, with the Ministry Council, and now, I would like to share them here with you.
My goals for 2021 are:
- Create a “Dream Team.” Churches are really good at tending to the daily and weekly things that keep our fellowship going, but often, churches neglect to do the deep work of short-term and long-term spiritual discernment. We need to ask the “big picture” questions like what would God have us do in this particular (kairos) moment, where is God already at work around us? How can we look, listen, pay attention, and then join God where God already is? This group will be a high-commitment, visionary group. If you would like to be a part of this Dream Team, please email me at [email protected].
- Continue and complete the Reckoning with Racism co-hort. This 9-month process has already been transformative. Every other Tuesday evening, a team from Fremont meets with other faith groups from across the state of Oregon to learn the history of racism, do “homework” and explore the call to a different future. We have been researching the story of the land as it relates to our congregation which is fast approaching 100 years in Alameda (1923), and our own personal stories of land. The land stories expose both the displacement of Indigenous people (Chinook, in our case) and the intentional denial of real estate to Black and immigrant people. This painful history marks the beginning of healing, and we will be sharing with you our research, stories and ideas for future acts of reconciliation and repentance.
- Launch the post-poned Capital Campaign. Right before the lockdown for COVID began last March, Fremont was on the verge of launching a Capital Campaign. Much work had already been accomplished to identify plans to address deferred maintenance and to restore the building to improved conditions. The global pandemic rightly halted those plans, and yet, the important work remains necessary. We will take the time this year to re-evaluate those plans, re-orient the Campaign to future vision and receive your important feedback on where we go from here. Then, we will prayerfully and joyously begin.
Again, we have so much to look forward to this year together. I thank God for the gift of this new year with you. As the sign above reads, “I believe in the good things coming,” and I hope you do too. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email me, [email protected],
Grace and peace, Pastor Erin