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Dear Covenant,

I was thinking this week about how we have not been physically together for over 3 months now – a quarter of the year – and I was feeling sad about it.  It has been good to see so many of you over Zoom so regularly, and talk or email with others, but I know we all miss being at the building.  Yet, I think we can be proud of how we have continued being church. 

It is often in our hardest times when a practice of gratitude is the most helpful for our spiritual life.  When we have the most questions for God; the greatest uncertainty; the biggest doubts or fears, a practice of gratitude reminds us of the blessings we continue to have even when much feels unsteady.

So, here are a few things I am grateful for recently, followed by a prayer offered by Rev. Nadia Bolz Weber on the same subject:
  1. Our great confirmation class!  It is a joy and privilege to welcome them into membership at Covenant.  I am so excited to see how they will use their gifts and continue to grow in the Spirit.
  2. The youth who have been meeting with me weekly since March.  Their recent desire to understand the connection of  their faith to the work of justice around systemic racism has been awesome to witness.  We are having excellent conversations about how to be the people God calls us to be in the world and they are sharing things they are learning with one another with excitement and engagement.
  3. The trivia game night over 20 of us participated in that Emily Hart and Beth Zimmerman planned.  It was a lot of fun and Emily and Beth came up with great questions.
  4. The Sunday School class that continues to meet each week to play silly games and talk about Bible stories together.  And the kids who have filmed themselves singing ‘Be Still’ so they can lead us during worship.
  5. Our most recent session meeting where we had the opportunity to listen to the confirmation class profess their faith.  Then, they switched gears to talk about a new grant to the LGBTQ Center in Racine, so that even in this time, we can continue to support our community.  And then we discussed how we continue to be church and connect during this pandemic while doing all we can to keep each other safe. Finally, we discussed how Covenant can actively be a part of the work of justice, especially as it relates to being anti-racist.  It was quite a meeting in which the Holy Spirit was present in powerful ways.
There are certainly more, but for these, I am grateful. 

Blessings to each of you!
Pastor Jenny

Give Us This Day Our Daily Gratitude
A prayer written by Nadia Bolz Weber
That I have been given one more day, I give thanks.
That the birds still sing each morning, impossibly early outside my window, I give thanks.
For the sun rising once again in the East, I give thanks.
That for this day I have bread, I give thanks.
For drinkable water, for breathable air, and Dairy Queen dipped cones I give thanks.
For one more day of mobility I give thanks.
For novelists who create worlds and characters and stories for our minds and not for our TVs, I give thanks.
For the puppy I got at the beginning of quarantine who is currently destroying my life, I give thanks. 
For cell phone reception, and I-guess-its-better-than-nothing ZOOM calls and reliable internet service, I give thanks.
That I am loved, I give thanks
That I am forgiven, I give thanks.
That I am alive, I give thanks.
That you, O God are known by many names, I give thanks. 
That you, O God are present when I feel only your absence I give thanks. 
That you are God and I am not, I give the most thanks. Forgive me when I forget that one.
And for every other gift I am too self-obsessed to see, but that totally comes from you -Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.  Amen.

Guest Preachers in July

Rev. Kara Baylor will preach on July 5.
Pastor Kara Baylor has been an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for twenty years. Pastor Kara has served in Racine and Kenosha, working with youth and young adults and social justice. Recently she started a blog at www.pissedoffpastor.org to share her voice and her story in this turbulent moment in the history of humanity. She believes the reformation isn’t over yet. 
The Rev. Melanie Hammond Clark will preach on July 12.
 
The Rev. Melanie Hammond Clark is better known around Covenant as “Pastor Melanie”, having served here as a co-pastor from 2003-2017.

For those who don’t already know her, Melanie is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from Miami University of Ohio, and received her M.Div. in 1984 from Princeton Theological Seminary.

She has served on pastoral staffs at churches in Wallingford, Pennsylvania and Libertyville, Illinois before coming to Covenant to create its first co-pastorate with The Rev. Mary Steege. Melanie and her husband Richard “Chip” Clark, who is a Family Medicine physician, now live in Libertyville, Illinois and have two adult children, Kyle (31) who is now married to Annie Porter Clark, and Kat (30), all of whom live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In 2017, Melanie retired from parish ministry for a new season of life and to have more flexibility to enjoy weekends with her husband and their far-flung family and friends. She is a spiritual director, leads retreats, and teaches as opportunities arise.

Melanie has a deep passion for facilitating individuals and groups into deepening discipleship. For her, there is no greater joy than to help people look for and experience the fresh ways God is stretching and summoning them to new life.

Giving Your Pledges

During this unprecedented time, we are finding ourselves worshiping and connecting with each other in ways we never imagined.  It has also challenged us to find creative ways to safely receive your on-going pledges.  Perhaps you’ve noticed the “GIVE NOW” button (as pictured above) on the Covenant website, www.covpres.org.  By clicking this button, you will be able to send in a one-time donation or set up regular intervals of giving.  You can choose to pay with your bank savings or checking account or with a credit card.  You can even donate from your mobile smart phone.  Click here to see a video for more information about the GivePlus Mobile App.  Covenant will be charged 2% for each transaction completed through either the website or mobile app.  You may wish to offset this transaction fee by adding 2% to your donation amount.  No matter your decision, your total donation (including the fee) is tax deductible.

Church Game Night: Wednesday, July 22, at 6pm

Come join in an all church game night led by the Christian Formation Committee.  The games will be for all ages.  We are working on a Family Feud style game (watch your email for a church-wide survey to use for this!)

Mission Outreach Opportunity (a MOO!): July 6 and July 20

We have another opportunity to support our community through the Hospitality Center. We are looking for volunteers to make a BBB or a Brown Bag Breakfast for them.  They serve breakfast every morning from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. This brown bag breakfast would consist of the following items  ....
Granola 
Hard Boiled egg
Yogurt
Fruit (your choice – apple, orange, banana)
Cheese sticks
Juice (box or pouch)

We would like volunteers who would be willing to make 10 (or more) of these brown bag breakfasts at home.  Someone will then come to your house to pick them up and deliver all the bags to the Hospitality Center.  We plan to collect them on Monday July 6th and 20th, so if you will have bags ready for pick up on those days click here to inform Kathy Miller.

Mission Outreach Opportunity: Providing Dinner at Vets Tiny Homes on Sunday, July 12

Covenant is going to provide dinner for the Veterans living in the Tiny Homes Village on Sunday, July 12.  Due to the Safer at Home order, we will just be dropping the food off, not staying to serve.  The main course is already taken care of, but if you are interested in helping to provide a side, salad, dessert, etc. click here to contact Candy Lively.
 

Mission Outreach Opportunity: Casseroles Needed for Monday Night Meal on July 27

On Monday, July 27, Covenant is responsible for the meal being served at the Hospitality Center.  The Monday night meals have continued in this time, but they package up the dinners and let people take them to go.  We are looking for people who are willing to make casseroles for the dinner. 

Kelly Miller will drop off a tin and recipe for you in advance and you can either drop off your casserole on July 27th or Kelly can come pick it up from your house.  Casseroles will need to be dropped off at 4pm, this is a change to previous time. Please click here to contact Kelly, call Kelly at 262-939-6043 or click here to contact Pastor Jenny if you can help or have questions.

Mission Outreach Grant Awarded to the LGBT Center of SE Wisconsin

Mission Outreach identified a new grant receiver in our community, the LGBT Center of SE Wisconsin. A $1000 grant was given to them for their roof repair.  They are located at 1456 Junction Center in Racine, established in 2009, and their Executive Director is Barb Farrar, execdirector@lgbtsewi.org.  Their website is ​www.lgbtsewi.org

Their mission is to empower SE Wisconsin to create a safe and inclusive home for LGBTQ+ communities.  Their primary programs include
  • a 24x7 crisis line
  • Safe Zone/LGBTQ+ training for businesses, nonprofits/medical providers/municipalities/schools/churches
  • provide free support groups serving 35 weekly
  • advocacy for individuals and to support laws and ordinances that support LGBTQ+ people
  • programs to build community within our diverse LGBTQ+
  • elder/youth programs like our Youth Arts Program
  • social events (like our youth equality prom and gala)
  • and learning events like speakers and movies for the public
Currently they have this statement on their website:
"The impact that COVID-19 has had on our LGBTQ+ community is staggering. We are all trying to catch our breath, assess this temporary new normal and try to forge ahead the best way we know how. The LGBT Center of SE Wisconsin, like all of us, is forging ahead.

To the best of our ability we are…actively getting support groups, social groups and new activities launched virtually; reaching out to see how you are, what you need and to see if we can help; advocating for those in SE Wisconsin and beyond; and we are being good stewards of your financial support so we can continue to be your Center for years to come."

 
Be careful, love one another
and be thinking of the fabulous party we will have when this is over!

Children and Youth Schedule for July

Sunday School
Meets Wednesdays at 4:30pm
(led by Abby Neubauer)

Middle School Youth Group
Meets on Friday July 17 and 24 at 11:00am

High School Youth Group
Meets on Friday July 17 and 24 at 2:00pm

No Vacation Bible School this Summer

This year there won’t be any VBS.  We surveyed families and found there just isn’t a time that will work for enough people to do a remote VBS.  However, we are going to make available some options for families to use at home as they choose.

Confirmation Class of 2020
Congratulations!

Eden Jensen, Josie Johnson
Ty Johnson, Lawson Kobriger
Annelise McDonald, Emilie Miller
Gavin Thordson, Naisbert Nyamatutu
Katie Peterson, Gavin Thordson

Sanctuary

We may not be there much lately, but it’s still a sanctuary . . .
     to this mourning dove and her two eggs in the nest,
          to a whole host of pollinators among the flowers,
               to rabbits in the yard,
And to the mystery animal leaving well-worn paths through the wooded area.
--Maureen Potter

News of the Church Household

Our Sympathy
...to Kathleen and John Woodbury on the death of Kathleen's mother, Eileen Haas, on June 14, 2020, in Racine.

...to Bob and Jane Holroyd on the death of Bob's sister, Jean Gislason, on June 25, 2020, in Iowa.

A Letter of Thanks from the Food Pantry
Dear Covenant Presbyterian Church,

Thank you for your donations of diapers to our Diaper Ministry.

Our ministry meets every Monday, from 10am to 1pm and we give out diapers to mothers and little ones from size newborn to toddler size 5.

Thanks to your donations we will be able to keep our little ones in the community dry and happy...That also keeps the mothers happy!

God's blessings to you,
North Pointe UMC Diaper Ministry

From Joe Dominic, Music Director

Hi Everyone!
 
Since I missed the deadline for the June newsletter,  please let me take a moment to belatedly say in print Happy Fathers’ Day to all who celebrated it and to all the folks who identify as men who make an impact in the lives of the people around them, whether they have progeny or not.  The idea of being a father without having actual kids was brought home to me on Fathers’ Day, when my best friend, Rose, gave me a card on Fathers’ Day thanking me for being a “strong male figure who shares his whole heart with my family.”  I don’t tell you this to brag, although as I write this it certainly sounds to me like I am, but to ask that we remember those who for many reasons don’t have children and I ask you to remind them, that they too, are valued members of our families and communities.  Following is a blessing you may find useful when praying for your father or those who act like a father in your life:
 


God our Father, in your wisdom and love you made all things. 
Bless our Father.  Let the example of his faith and love shine forth. 
Grant that we, his family, may honor him always with a spirit of profound respect. 
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.[i]
 
Other opportunities I missed were to say Happy Juneteenth and Happy LGBT2QIA Pride!  So let me first wish you a Happy Independence Day!
 
Second, since many folks have talked to me already, I know that many of you know that Session, Trustees, and Pastors have decided not to renew my contract when it expires at the end of August.  I was told this decision was based on the fact that I stated I was uncomfortable in the position and that Covenant leadership does not see us resuming live worship for some time to come.  If you don’t already know, I want you to be able to hear it from the horse’s mouth.  I was and remain incredibly grateful to all of you at Covenant for sharing your musical gifts for me.  You have been a wonderful group to make music with and worship with.  I wish you all the best as you continue to explore how to worship in a pandemic.
 
Finally, it seems to me, that the most important work in our country right now is the folks protesting for justice for black folks.  With that in mind and Independence Day occurring about the time you read this, I want to share two stories with you.  The first is musical; the second is not, but it involves one of the saints I hold dear.
 
The first person I ask that we hold in our hearts is Sojourner Truth and the soldiers of the First Arkansas for whom she wrote (or is attributed to have written) these words. Congress passed the Confiscation Act in 1862 that stated that folks enslaved by the rebellious states (aka the South).  The First Arkansas was a division of the Union Army comprised of folks who had previously been enslaved.[ii]  Sojourner called the words she wrote for them, The Valiant Soldiers, which is sung to the tune of John Brown’s Body, a.k.a The Battle Hymn of the Republic.[iii]
 
We are coloured Yankee soldiers who've enlisted for the war;
We are fighting for the Union, we are fighting for the law;
We can shoot a rebel farther than a white man ever saw,
As we go marching on.
 
Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!        
Glory, glory, hallelujah, as we go marching on.
 
Look there above the center, where the flag is waving bright;
We are going out of slavery; we are bound for freedom's light;
We mean to show Jeff Davis how the Africans can fight,
As we go marching on.
 
We are done with hoeing cotton, we are done with hoeing corn;
We are coloured Yankee soldiers just as sure as you are born.
When the rebels hear us shouting, they will think it's Gabriel's horn,
As we go marching on.
 
They will have to pay us wages, for the wages of their sin;
They will have to bow their foreheads to their coloured kith and kin;
They will have to give us house-room, or the roof will tumble in,
As we go marching on.        
 
We hear the proclamation, rebels, crush it as you will;
The birds will sing it to us, hopping on the cotton hill;
The possum up the gum tree couldn't keep it still,
As he went climbing on.
 
Abraham has spoken, and the message has been sent;
The prison doors have opened, and out the prisoners went.
To join the sable army of African descent,
As we go marching on.
 
Throughout May and June, I sometimes felt like Jeff Davis in that hymn, knowing my privilege helped me in unexpected, unrecognized ways; knowing that I went to protests only to drive home and be safe in my house and neighborhood; But anyway, the good news is it’s an excuse for you to listen and be inspired by my people, the singing group Sweet Honey in the Rock. (Why MY people? For one, Bernice Johnson Reagan is queer like me. I can’t tell you how excited I was in the 90s to hear her sing and speak in Boston!)  Here’s the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=DwSZgLLqPy8
 
The second person I ask that we hold in our hearts is Marsha P. Johnson. This black, trans, drag queen, woman joined the riot at the Stonewall Inn in NYC.  The riot lasted from June 28 to July 3, 1969.  It resulted in American queers like me enjoying civil rights. She was later rejected by queer folks who looked like me, who wanted a calmer, a more acceptable, a more palatable to the straight white masses, version of homosexuals to prevail. If folks like Marsha had not thrown bottles and bricks, I wouldn’t be allowed to teach 7, 8 and 9-year-olds or be your music director. If folks like Marsha hadn’t lit fires, I would still be hiding in the closet. If folks like Marsha hadn’t slashed police car tires, I wouldn’t have been able to walk down the block holding hands with my boyfriend.   She later opened a home for gay male and trans youth who were homeless and went on to be an AIDS activist in the 80s, before dying in the Hudson River after sustaining a head wound.
 
While I am scared for folks involved with the violence that has been taking place around us these past few months, I know I owe my life today to similar violence. I pray for those who continue to protest on our streets, who say enough is enough, for those who face violence and bigotry and for all those who work to make our society just. And I know, as I sit here safe in my home writing this to you, that is not doing enough.
 

[i] (Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers © 1989 National Conference of Catholic Bishops, U.S. Catholic Conference
[ii]http://web.sonoma.edu/users/w/wallsd/smm-marching-song.shtml?fbclid=IwAR15zkgx41fOFekT1slCcxFLLwJfGT4-4V7DAMA4Gab4iKLCy_jFIHSFYh0
[iii] http://www.post509.com/lyrics_sojourners_battle_hymn.htm
 

 
 
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