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Pastor's Page

Dear Covenant family,
 
This has been a heart-breaking week in a heart-breaking year. As we have watched the news of what has happened in our neighboring Kenosha, there are so many feelings to sort through. There is still much we don’t know.  But what we do know is that as a community and country we are incredibly divided and in such a way that brings so much ugliness out from name calling to physical violence. We know that racism and the way its tentacles have reached into our institutions and our own hearts continues to confront us in ways we cannot ignore. We know that our God proclaims that every life is valued, precious and sacred, but that again and again, our society does not reflect that well. We know there are a lot of people hurting in mind, body and spirit.

Talking to many of you or seeing your posts online, I know I am not alone with feelings of sadness, anger, fear, worry, and even hopelessness. There is so much and it is overwhelming. I’ve spoken to many people who have double the time on this earth than I do and they share that this feels like the hardest time in our country in their lives. It is hard to imagine solutions big enough and sometimes it’s even hard to imagine small solutions. And as I sat down to write this letter, I thought “what could I possibly write that would help?”
 
And yet, I am always aware of my role as your pastor and how that role is meant to be the person who tries to point to God in our midst (though, so often you reveal God to me). And so, when I lose the words, or feel overwhelmed, or don’t know what to focus on, usually I remember there are words, other than my own, to which I can turn. Because in these unprecedented, overwhelming, difficult times, we have a scripture full of stories of people in unprecedented, overwhelming, difficult times. The situations differ, but scripture tells of people dealing with political strife, personal grief, destruction of livelihoods, terrible natural events of famines and floods, moral tests, deep injustices, and so much more. And for all the differences in these stories and all the ways they differ from our time, the common thread is that God is with them in all of it. 
 
God is with them, and often, they are with each other – people and families and disciples who come together in times of trial and hold onto one another tightly. God offers the people love and courage and strength and purpose and energy and imagination and grace. God makes the people who feel too small, too inconsequential, too unprepared be exactly the people needed for the moment. God gives the courage and hope needed to follow the prophet Micah’s command to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord.” 
 
This is our story.  This is our faith.  These are our words and they show us what our actions should be.  So, we pray.  And we study.  And we worship.  And we act.  We do not hide or bury our heads in the sand.  We face the sin and brokenness in ourselves, each other and our society.  We seek peace and work for justice and love one another as best as we can.  And God is with us in all of it speaking words like:  “do not be afraid,” “my peace I give to you,” “nothing can separate us from God in Christ Jesus,” “you can do all things in Christ,” “you are my beloved,” “feed my sheep,” “love one another, just as I have loved you.” Let those be the words on our lips in these days, beloveds, and let them guide our actions with each other and in the world. 
 
Pastor Jenny

Letter to the Congregation from the Session

September 1, 2020

Dear Covenant Family and Friends,

This year continues to provide many challenges and the most unsettling of conditions.  The Elders and Deacons recently met together, an annual tradition. But this year we did not have a potluck and we did not welcome new members.  Instead, we sat in our own living rooms, kitchens, or home offices, and Zoomed with one another.  We are saddened by the loss of shared Worship and Fellowship in the Sanctuary and the gathering spaces of Covenant. While we have a sense of gratitude that we can continue to meet with one another, we are all experiencing the sense of loss that comes with the lack of in-person meetings and gatherings.

At the last Session meeting, we again considered the ability to open safely.  After a lengthy and lively discussion, we determined that at this time we must stay the course that we have set. Conditions have not changed, we have not reached the Phase One conditions that were defined for reopening, and the risk to the Congregation outweighs our desire to gather in person. We talked about smaller groups and events, and have agreed that at this time we will not support in-person gatherings for adults or youth on or off Church property. We also do not support other groups using the church building for meetings or gathering.

These are difficult decisions, and we will ask your help in the days and weeks ahead.  Our Pastors are working overtime to find meaningful, engaging, and creative ways to present Worship services each week. They continue their pastoral care through telecare, and work with the Sunday and Middle School youth on a regular basis.  Kathy Miller continues to keep us all in order, and provides the tools that we need to engage in Worship and various meetings. Committees continue to meet virtually, and small groups form for fellowship through Zoom. 

The Session will continue to monitor all of the available information.  The Coronavirus Task Force will meet in the next week and will make recommendations at the September Session meeting. Our ask of you is this:  please let us know your thoughts, concerns, and ideas. Please be in prayer for our Pastors and Staff, for the Elders and Deacons, and for all of the members of the Congregation as we move forward. Continue your work in the community as you are able. Be the Body of Christ in the World: the World needs you now more than ever. Find Joy in what is ours, and sorrow in what we miss. Be confident in God’s word, and know that all will be well.

Walk Humbly, Seek Justice, Be Merciful,

The Session

Wednesday Morning Bible Study Begins September 9

Wednesday Morning Bible Study on Zoom will be resuming on Wednesday, September 9 (11:00 a.m. - 12 p.m.). Our co-pastors will alternate who is leading based on who is preaching the upcoming Sunday. Come join us for a chance to learn a little more about the Bible, and prepare for Sunday worship (studying the text before you hear the sermon is guaranteed to change how you hear the sermon). We hope you will join us—drop-ins always welcome.

Contribution Statements and Giving Your Pledges

In early September your contribution statements will be sent to you by email.  Please check your statement carefully and let us know of any questions you have.  We appreciate and rely on you staying current on your pledge giving. We also understand that situations change and so if you do need to make a change in your pledge at any time, please just let Kathy Miller know.

There are four ways to give your tithes and offerings.  By using the Give Now button on the website or by using the related app for that program (See below description).  The second way is to use Automatic Withdrawal from your bank account to the church's bank account. Contact Kathy Miller for the form to sign up. (These first two ways are electronic and don't involve the postal mail.) The third way is to use your online bank program to have the bank mail a check to the church.  And the fourth way is to mail your own check to the church. Pledges can be paid weekly, monthly, or all at once.

There is a “Give Now” button on our website, www.covpres.org. By clicking the "Give Now" 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.

September Game Night - Scattegories and Famous People - Wednesday, September 23 from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Join us on Zoom for a fun night of playing Scattegories and Famous People – both simple games that anyone of any age can play.  Pastor Jenny will be the host.  Scattegories is a game where a letter is chosen and then the host gives a variety of categories and you have to come up with a unique answer beginning with the chosen letter.  Famous people (Celebrity)  is where you are given the names of famous people (could be historical figures, fictional characters, etc) and try to get others to guess who it is quickly.  The more you can get people to guess, the more points you get.  Sign up with Kathy Miller if you want to play!

Fellowship Opportunities

Contact Kathy Miller for the password.

Coffee Time - Every Friday, September 4, 11, 18, and 25, 11:00 a.m.
https://zoom.us/j/290593820
ID:  290 593 820

Men's Breakfast - 1st & 3rd Wednesdays - September 2 and 16, 8:00 a.m.
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82426888429
ID: 824 2688 8429

Fellowship, Fabric and Fibers - 1st & 3rd Thursdays - September 3 and 17, 7:00 p.m.
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87240738547
ID: 872 4073 8547

Women's Breakfast - 2nd & 4th Wednesday, September 9 and 23, 9:00 a.m.
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87877007789
ID: 878 7700 7789

NEW Fellowship Opportunity: Women's Breakfast on Zoom, Beginning September 9, 9:00 a.m.

Miss the Women’s Breakfast? Did you always wish you could go to the Women’s Breakfast but couldn’t? Now’s your chance! We’re reviving the Women’s Breakfast—Zoom style. Join the women of Covenant on Wednesday, September 9 and Wednesday September 23 from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. on Zoom (come when you can and leave when you need to) for coffee (bring your own) and fellowship. If you can’t make either of those times but would be interested in joining in the future, please email Kathy Miller.

Our Very Own Loaves and Fishes - 230 Brown Bag Breakfasts and 8 Cases of Water

Thank you to everyone who participated in making Brown Bag Breakfasts for the Hospitality Center in August.  We were able to provide so many breakfasts and they were greatly appreciated.  Those who participated said they enjoy the project and we had people doing great decorations on their bags too!  We have partnered with Wayman AME Church on this which means they have brought an additional 100 breakfast bags to the project.  We look forward to continuing this great food ministry!

Mission Projects You Can Get Involved in this Month

  • Brown Bag Breakfasts for Hospitality Center – Monday, September 21
  • Food for the Northside Food Pantry – any week
  • Monday Night Meal at the Hospitality Center – September 14
**Look for more details for each of these opportunities in the weekly Connections

Composting Continues!

Our composting program at Covenant has continued all spring and summer and we have made A LOT of good soil with our compost.  Thanks to all those who tend the compost each week and to Bob Dean, Leon Potter and Brian Gleichauf who went to sift and harvest some of the soil to make room for more compost.  If you are interested in being involved, just pick up a bucket from the bucket depot in the parking lot to begin.  If you have questions, contact Pastor Jenny.

School Supply Drive Postponed

You may have noticed we didn’t host our annual school supply drive this August.  We do hope to do a drive later in the school year, but at this time, when we contacted the principal of West Ridge (where we did our drive last year), they said they weren’t sure what they needed yet.  We’re going to give them a bit of time to get this unusual year started and then check in again. 

Youth Groups in September

Middle School (5th-8th grade)
September 20 at 4:00 p.m. on Zoom (going forward we will meet the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month)
 
High School (9th-12th grade)
September 13 and 27 at 4:00 p.m. on Zoom (going forward we will meet the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month)

Christian Formation for Fall

This fall, we will have a new format for Sunday School.  We plan to offer Sunday School for 1st-6th graders right after worship on Sunday morning.  There will be two classes and we send each group into their own breakout room on Zoom at the end of worship.  Classes will be 30 minutes long.  The schedule for a typical month will look like this:
1st Sundays – special days – music, stories, crafts led by different members of the church
2nd Sundays – NO Sunday School (second Sunday coffee happens)
3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays – Sunday School class with a teacher based on a Bible story
 
September Schedule
Sunday, September 20 - Sunday School on Zoom, right after worship
Sunday, September 27 – Sunday School on Zoom, right after worship

Sunday School Teachers this Year

Letty Nyamatutu, Anne and Tim Risler, Lori Jensen and Claudia Grace are our Sunday School teachers this year.

Thank you!

A Picture of a Member

DOROTHY DAVIES SAYS, "So glad Greg and I could take part in the grand opening of this area in Owen's park August 5th.  It started with 10 and now has 30 beautifully kept raised gardens with water and fencing between the dog park and playground."

News of the Church Household

OUR CONGRATULATIONS...
to Dick and Nancy Boudreau on the birth of their 5th grandchild, August Hugo Mohn Boudreau, born on August 24, to Eric and Alicia Boudreau.

Session Highlights for August

In August, our Session and Deacons met together on Zoom for the joint meeting required by our Book of Order.  In that meeting, we divided up into small groups to answer a few questions about Covenant together.  Here is a summary of what was answered for each question.  What would you add?  We’d be glad to hear your thoughts.
 
During this time of Covid, what have we learned as a church community?
  • We prefer live church/meetings/events and the ability to see and hear each other.
  • We are not dependent on ‘in person’
  • We are resilient in the face of adversity. We don't give up.
  • We are strong and have been able to continue with worship, service, and to carry on our mission. 
  • Trials are part of our journey.
  • Our Church is a central part of our lives. 
  • Church is not a physical place: - we can hear God and learn anywhere. Church is community. We are still connected
  • Some people Zoom that wouldn't regularly come to church.
  • We are still able to take action (i.e., BLM sign, breakfasts, food pantry) 
  • People are still showing up to participate at church (compost, building, grounds, etc.) 
  • Church is people, not a building; we can worship without a building.
During this time of Covid, what we have lost as a church community?
  • Face to face
  • The physical comfort of the Sanctuary
  • Touch; the positive impact of physical presence; hugs! 
  • In person connections 
  • Communion with one another
  • Some people can’t or don’t participate
  • Soft check ins 
  • Money/financial 
  • Intergenerational contact and activities.
  • Kids not being together and us not being with and around the kids. 
  • Music: singing together, the organ, the choir, the special music of our members
  • Passing the peace 
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • Hugs!  
  • Calories!
During this time of Covid, what we have gained as a church community?
  • More people attending services; participation enabled for those at a distance or unable to travel; extended reach
  • Kids singing at the children’s sermon on Zoom
  • Understanding that we can survive hard things 
  • Connections in different ways provides avenues for growth, bringing us even closer
  • Deeper understanding of what Covenant means to us
  • Focus on spirituality
  • As a church we can face challenges 
  • Re-evaluating committees and committee work
  • People still notice when you are missing 
  • Attending events can be ‘low threat’
  • Participation in meetings, Bible Study, and other events enabled
What are possibilities that God is revealing during this time?  
  • We can do what we need to do, and be more than who we thought we were.
  • More outreach to members and the community.
  • Doing things in different ways 
  • Realizing that we are not constrained to what we do in the Church building.
  • We are open to different kinds and ways of learning
  • Technology is very helpful and manageable
  • What is our future online?
  • Flexibility/ability to try things 
  • We can imagine new things
  • Grace and Kindness 
  • Working together with Excitement, Engagement, and Compassion to be the Body of Christ in this World.
Copyright © 2020 Covenant Presbyterian Church, All rights reserved.


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