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As I write this, the wind is blowing and snow is falling and it feels like one of the first major snowstorms of the year. I always find February to be one of the hardest months, as I’m not a fan of winter. November, December, and January may technically be winter, but they are swept up with holidays and the magic of the first snowfall. By February, though, I find that the magic of winter has worn thin and spring still feels a long way off.
 
The pairing of this winter gloom and the beginning of the season of Lent (which always starts sometime in February, this year on February 17th) invariably feels both appropriate and like piling on. Where Advent leans into the darkness in anticipation of light and new birth (and is only four weeks long), Lent leans into spareness and simplicity for a full six weeks. And while it does lead us to Easter, it always feels to me like the culmination of Lent is the end of Holy Week (Maundy Thursday and Good Friday) and that Easter is the beginning of something new rather than the event for which we’ve been preparing.
 
The type-A personality in me often feels like I need to really “live into” each church season. It takes effort every February to remember that while church seasons might be an invitation into particular ways of being, they are just as often meant to be reflections of the reality that we already know and live. This year, our theme for Lent is “Again & Again.” Again & Again feels about right in this moment—that sense of relentless repetition and possible futility. But as I read through the materials provided and the themes for each week of Lent, I am reminded that the relentless repetition applies not only to the things we must do again and again but also to the ways in which God encounters us and reaches out to us again and again. The theme for Easter Sunday in these materials is “Again and Again, The Sun Rises”, which reminds me of one of my favorite songs this past year, “The Sun Will Rise”. As we head into this Lenten Season, I think this might become my refrain and my theme song.
 
What about you? What words are you holding on to in this season? What song resonates for you?

Blessings,
Pastor Sarah

Session Highlights and Notes
February 2021

As the New Year begins, we find hope in many things, and yet still are carrying much forward from the last year.  The Session moves forward into this year with gratitude for all your hard work and commitment in 2020, and for your continued support of Covenant in 2021.  During the last year, we have been able to complete several projects which will be apparent to you when we return to the Church – new lighting, replaced flooring in the downstairs area, an automatic door which will make our entry accessible, as well as other projects. 

For the session, however, the most significant learning of this time has been the generosity of our Covenant family, particularly as seen through your commitment to community missions: the brown bag breakfasts and dinners for the Hospitality Center, our Christmas families, the Veterans dinners, and many generous contributions to our organizations in need.  The Christmas Eve donations far exceeded our expectations and gave much needed funds to the Women’s Resource Center.  Even more, we have watched and listened as you have reached out to one another, whether at Worship, in organized Fellowship activities, on your committees, or in many other informal ways.

As new members join the Session, we give our thanks for those who have completed their terms.  Michael Clickner and Karen Fretschel will be really missed.  We are grateful that Claudia Grace has agreed to return as Clerk of Session even though her term as an active Elder is over. We look forward to their continued service as leaders in our midst. We are excited to welcome Sue Gabbey, Beth Kapralian, David Steege and youth elder, Naisbert Nyamatutu, to the session in February.

We have been closely following the information about the on-going pandemic provided by the Presbytery and the Wisconsin Council of Churches.  At a recent webinar, we were reminded that the church is subject to a higher bar than other organizations.  The role of the church is to meet human needs, and to serve as leaders in our communities.  It may seem as if we are being abundantly cautious, and indeed we are.  We are hopeful that the vaccine will soon be readily available to most members.  Even after you receive your vaccination, we urge you to follow safe practices – wearing masks, limiting social contact, and doing all that you can to stay well.  We look forward to spending time in the Sanctuary when we can all gather safely.

As a session, and as a church, we believe our foremost obligation is to provide safely for our members and our community. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he reminds the church of the need to be generous with one another and writes, “Carry each other’s heavy loads.  If you do, you will give the law of Christ full meaning.”  Let us continue to live into the request that Christ made of us. 

And, as Julian of Norwich wrote, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."

Lent at Covenant

There are many ways to live into the season of Lent, here are just a few suggestions and opportunities.
 
Special Lenten Worship Services:
  • Ash Wednesday, February 17, 7:00 p.m. (on Zoom)
  • Maundy Thursday, April 1, 7:00 p.m. (on Zoom)
  • Good Friday, April 2, 7:00 p.m. (on Zoom)
**All worship services will use the same Zoom ID that we use for Sunday morning worship
 
Devotionals:
  • Daily Devotional Email: if you’d like to receive a short daily devotional email that includes a word or phrase for the day, a scripture passage, 2-3 reflection questions, and a prayer, please sign up here: https://mailchi.mp/covpres/lent-email. Emails will go out every morning beginning on February 17 through April 4.
     
  • Printed Devotionals: (both books and booklets) can be found in the Little Free Library beginning on February 14.
     
  • Online Devotionals: you can find a list of online devotionals (both those you can download and those you can sign up for via email) on our website: https://covpres.org/lent-2021-online-devotionals (more will be added as they become available, so be sure to check back).
     
  • Again & Again Devotional: printed copies can be found in the Little Free Library beginning on February 14; if you’d like a digital copy, you can download one here (you’ll need the Zoom password to access the file): https://forms.gle/QtHs9t2pxS6QbWiV9
 
Lenten Class:
Join us Wednesday evenings in Lent (February 24, March 3, March 10, March 17 & March 24) from 7:00-8:15 p.m. on Zoom for Testimony: A Vocabulary of Faith. This curriculum (put out by the Presbyterian Outlook) asks the questions, how do we articulate what we believe fluently and in ways that clearly demonstrate our faith to the world? And, how do we live and move and have our being in ways that embody our deepest Christian commitments? Join us as we explore scripture and contemporary theology in our exploration of these questions. If you'd like to attend, please RSVP to Kathy Miller.
 
Lenten Boxes for Children & Youth:
All of our Sunday School children and High School youth will have special Lenten boxes delivered to their homes prior to the beginning of Lent. These boxes will contain goodies and supplies for Lenten-themed crafts and devotions.

Mission Outreach

February Service opportunities

Brown Bag Breakfasts - We will be collecting Brown Bag Breakfasts on Wednesdays, February 3 and 17. (2021 Dates through June: February 3 and 17, March 17 and 31, April 7 and 21, May 5 and 19, June 16 and 30.)

Hospitality Monday Night Meals - The next meal will be on Monday, March 8. (2021 Dates: March 8, June 7, August 2, September 20, and December 20.)

Veterans Outreach Meal - The next meal will be on Sunday, March 14. (2021 Dates: March 14, May 2, July 11, September 12, and November 14.)

Read the Covenant Connections email on Mondays to learn more and sign up for these service opportunities.
Hat, Scarf, Mitten and Glove Collection – February 7
Please bring any new or gently used hats/scarves/mittens/gloves to Covenant on Sunday February 7 between 1:00-2:30 p.m.  Everything we collect will be donated to HALO for those who could really use more warm weather gear this winter.
 
Missionaries Visit - Parkers on February 14 after worship
Following worship on February 14, you are invited to join us on Zoom for a presentation by Elmarie and Scott Parker, Presbyterian missionaries in Lebanon/Syria/Iraq.  The Parker’s visited Covenant in person two years ago and now we have the chance to hear an update on their ministry. You can read more about them by clicking here. 

Christian Formation

Sunday School following Sunday Worship
  • February 7 – All Sunday School families are invited to participate in a service project with the Mission Committee as they pack Brown Bag Breakfasts together.
  • February 14 – Watch for a delivery of a Lent box on your doorstep!
  • February 21 and 28 – Sunday School classes will be held after worship on Zoom.
 Youth Group at 4:00 p.m. on Sundays on Zoom
  • February 7 and 21 – Middle School Youth Group
  • February 14 and 28 – High School Youth Group
Sunday School PARENTS Potluck
  • Saturday, February 20, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Fellowship & Hospitality

Zoom links are at the end of this newsletter. The same password is used for all Zoom meetings and to access content on our website. Contact Kathy Miller if you need the password.

Coffee Zoom - Every Friday at 11:00 a.m. - Join others for conversation every Friday. Bring your own coffee! 

Men's Breakfast - 1st Wednesday of the month at 8:00 a.m. - Men get together on Zoom for conversation. Breakfast optional!

Women's Breakfast - 2nd Wednesday of the month at 8:00 a.m. - Women get together on Zoom for conversation once a month. Breakfast optional!

Fellowship, Fabric, and Fibers - 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Get together with other crafters on Zoom to share projects, work on projects, and to keep in touch. During the year there are a variety of group projects - the kindness bears project, and planning special Sunday School projects.

Game Night – Tuesday, February 16, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Come on and join us for a Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras Game Night!  Bring your paper and a good marker for a game of Pictionary! Signup with Kathy Miller.

Facilities
Beautiful New Flooring

The Facilities Committee continues to work behind the scenes as the church stays closed for the first quarter of 2021. We were fortunate to receive an anonymous donation for new flooring in the lower level of the church, to replace the worn and damaged tiled area. As you can see from these before and after photos, this is one more reason to look forward to a time when we can gather together again at Covenant.

Caring for Creation
What's Next for Solar?

In last month’s Tidings, you read about the upgrade to the majority of Covenant’s interior and exterior lighting to cost saving and eco-friendly LED bulbs.  This is a major step to reducing our energy footprint and has paved the way to making further reductions in the future when we consider a solar power installation.  Not only do both of these initiatives save money, they also reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, contributing to a cleaner, healthier planet.  Over 67% of our energy usage in Southeastern Wisconsin comes from fossil fuels.  Prior to the LED lighting installation and before we closed our building for most of 2020, we were using 43,764 kWh of electricity annually, generating 56,859 tons of carbon dioxide and other emissions harmful to the environment.  We expect the LED lighting will reduce our usage by nearly half.  Much of the rest of our usage could be offset with solar energy, thereby reducing our emissions even further.
 
The Caring for Creation Committee is very interested in pursuing a solar installation at Covenant and were well on our way to communicating the idea to the congregation during information sharing meetings held in March 2020.  Together with Session, we soon realized that we needed to put this project on hold during the pandemic and building closure.  In order to keep things moving along as best as possible, we secured a second bid for a solar installation.  We now have 2 very competitive bids; one from Arch Electric and one from Eagle Point Solar.  We plan to rebid the project once we have a few months of electric bills post-LED installation. 
 
Covenant’s efforts to reduce our carbon footprint are completely aligned with the PCUSA position on the environment and particularly their positions on fossil fuels and carbon emissions (2008 General Assembly) and cleaning up the air (2002 General Assembly).  The Caring for Creation Committee is happy to be able to identify and promote activities such as these.
 
https://www.pcusa.org/site_media/media/uploads/washington/pdfs/policybrief.pdf
Here are a couple of great resources for additional information about fossil fuels and clean energy:
 
Click here to learn about the Hidden Costs of Fossil Fuels.
 
Energy Data:
https://www.c2es.org/content/renewable-energy/#:~:text=Renewables%20made%20up%2026.2%20percent,solar%2C%20wind%2C%20and%20hydropower.

Free LED Lights for your Home

Focus on Energy offers free energy-saving packs for your home. Click here to go to their website. You can choose from 3 different light packs and 2 showerhead packs.

News of the Church Household

A Special Birthday!
Former Co-Pastor Mary Steege's 60th birthday is on February 6. If you would like to send a card her address is 35 Stoneridge Pl, Durham NC 27705.

Our Congratulations!
...to Carrie Harbach and Rob Amos who were married on December 24, 2020, in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. You can now find Carrie listed under Carrie Amos in the online directory. 

To access the online directory, go to our webpage. Click on "About Us" at the top and then in the dropdown menu choose "Membership Directory". Use the regular Zoom password as the online password to access the directory.

Our Sympathy
...to Ahn Peterson on the death of her father, Ward James Hinze Jr., who died January 11, 2021, in Bluffton, South Carolina.
...to Mary Lou Short on the death of her brother, John Kochersperger who died January 15, 2021, in Greenville, Ohio.

Church Updates and Reminders

Worship and Sermons: Due to copyright concerns we are not posting the worship service on Facebook.  If you want a copy of the sermon to read, or to watch the service please contact Kathy Miller.  She can share a link for you to watch the service, or email (or snail mail) you a copy of the written sermon.

First Sunday Communion: We will have communion together on the first Sunday of the month as usual.  Pastors Sarah and Jenny will lead us through the Words of Institution and prayers that usually accompany communion.  This will mean you will need something to eat and drink nearby where you are watching.  Please don’t get hung up on having a specific kind of bread and grape juice.  Jesus used bread and wine because that is what he had available to him at the time.  We are invited to use what we have available also – whether that is crackers, muffins, coffee or water.

Zoom Password: After entering your ID for the Zoom worship service or meeting you are attending with Covenant Presbyterian, you are required to enter a password.  Please contact Kathy Miller if you need the password. This same password is used to access password protected content on our website.

Invite your Family and Friends to Worship: If your family or friends would like to get the Covenant Presbyterian emails so they can join us at Worship or Bible Study please send their name and email to Kathy Miller and she will add them to the distribution lists.

Contacting Kathy Miller, the Ministry Assistant: You can still reach Kathy by calling the church, but it is more direct if you call her cell phone number which is 262-880-6621.

Church Building Closed: The Session has determined that the church building will continue to be closed due to the pandemic.

How we Handle the Mail: All church mail is held at the Post Office.  It gets picked up once a week on Tuesdays. The offering is counted and your checks are deposited on Wednesdays.  Please note that this process may slow down how soon your check clears.

Food Pantry: If you have items to be picked up, email Kathy Miller.

Needed Items: (Please no fresh food items, only non-perishable in cans or boxes).
* Peanut Butter
* Egg Noodles
* Mac and Cheese
* SpaghettiO's
* Soup with Meat or Potatoes (not "cream of" soup)
* Kids Flavored Cereal
* Toilet Paper
* Liquid Laundry Detergent
* Diapers - any size
* Dishwashing Soap
* Toothpaste
* Shampoo
* Bar Soap
* Deodorant
* Face Masks
* Donate Packs of Paper Bags for Client's Groceries

Donate your items in any kind of bag: plastic, paper, re-usable (if you don't want it back), or in a box.

Thank you!

Zoom IDs

Bible Study
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/93016801365
ID: 930 1680 1365
 
Coffee Zoom
https://zoom.us/j/290593820
ID:  290 593 820
 
Fellowship, Fabric and Fibers
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87240738547
ID: 872 4073 8547
 
Game Night
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84005550020
ID: 840 0555 0020
 
Lent Study
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87032955690
ID: 8703 2955 690
 
Men's Breakfast
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82426888429
ID: 824 2688 8429
 
New Members Class
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82049241903
ID: 8204 9241 903
 
Women’s Breakfast
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87877007789
ID: 878 7700 7789
 
Worship
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/956669638
ID: 956 669 638
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