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Feb. 12, 2021

“So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9

Dear members and friends of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church,

I had a lot of plans for March 15, 2020. Some of them were normal plans for a Sunday: wake up early, head to church, lead worship for the Third Sunday in Lent. We had a theme – Wilderness – and the sanctuary was set for the next phase in building toward Easter. After church I had some silly plans. My dog, Valkyrie, and I were going to meet her siblings to celebrate their first birthday with a good run at the dog park and a “pup crawl” for refreshments at a nearby dog-friendly establishment. 

Instead, on Sunday morning we found ourselves hastily adapting worship to Zoom and Facebook Live, preaching and playing music to a computer perched on a music stand instead of a congregation of living bodies. Most of the dogs’ owners pulled out of park time as it sunk in that this virus was serious. Val and I grabbed some takeout just before all the restaurants and bars closed on the governor’s orders. Our fast-moving society suddenly ground to a halt, and we’ve been in slow motion ever since. Most things are happening in half-measures – online, in abbreviated versions, in hurried encounters outdoors – or not at all.

The church has been operating so differently than usual that it would be easy to assume that we, too, have just stopped during this time. We haven’t met in the building for almost a year. We haven’t passed the peace – the signature MAPC move! – in almost a year. And yet, the church has not stopped being the church. Every time I get discouraged or begin to think that we’ve lost momentum this year, all I have to do is look at how much we have accomplished in our Investing in a Just Future initiative alone. 

Just when you might have expected progress to grind to a halt, exactly the opposite has happened:

  • We invested in justice within our congregation and the wider Church by completing our search for a Pastoral Resident, and hired Rebekah Nolt in October. This is an incredibly difficult time to begin a new ministry position, and Rebekah hasn’t even met most of the congregation except over a screen, but they are adjusting phenomenally and have rapidly become an important addition to the pastoral team and the church as a whole. 
  • We invested in justice in our community through our partnership with Cincinnati Scholar House, which opened and began to house parents and children during a time when it could not have been more needed. Despite the limitations of the pandemic, MAPC members have found ways to contribute resources, time, and skills to the residents of Cincinnati Scholar House, and we’ve begun to build the foundation of a long and lively partnership.
  • We invested in justice for creation by making sustainable improvements to our building, taking advantage of the emptier facility to install highly efficient windows and a heat pump in our education and office wing, to accompany the solar panels that were installed previously as a separate effort. 

While plans of all kinds went awry, while businesses closed and reopened and closed again, while church events have been limited to online, while all of us have struggled in a variety of ways with our new realities, we have still continued to invest our energy, our time, and our money in pursuing justice. We’ve been able to do this because all of you have participated in the Investing in a Just Future initiative with your contributions of energy, time, and money. In a wearying time, you have not grown weary of doing what is right. 

It would have been so easy to allow ourselves to grind to a halt this year, to wait and pick up the work of justice when we can see each other again and encourage each other with enthusiastic hugs of peace. But even while that has not been possible, we have not given up. We have continued to sow the seeds and tend the fields of justice. It has been a hard time, but I think we will look back and think upon this as an exciting time as well, a time when something was growing while the world paused. I am so delighted and proud to be your pastor during this season, and I cannot wait to see the harvest that will be reaped from the work that has occurred during this time.

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Stacey Midge

 

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