New Beginnings Ahead

Greetings, friends!

In just four Sundays, on September 12, we’ll be kicking off our program year with the return of Faith Formation (what we have long called Sunday School) for our children, youth, families, and adults.  At the moment, we are still planning to hold these programs in person, with a continued commitment to masking indoors for everyone’s health and safety. Please note that Session and the Building Reopening Task Force will be discussing current local COVID-19 conditions next week to assess any needed changes or additional measures, so it’s possible these plans will shift.

Starting on September 12, our new schedule for Sunday mornings will be:

9:00 a.m.                     Contemporary Worship in the Kirk Center

10:00 a.m.                   Fellowship & Formation Hour

11:15 a.m.                   Traditional Worship in the Sanctuary

During the Fellowship & Formation Hour, we’ll begin with Hospitality Time at 10:00 a.m. for folks leaving the Contemporary Service and arriving for Faith Formation.  Classes will begin by 10:15 and meet until 11:00.

As we begin the fall, we’re excited to be sharing in a congregation-wide book read of Neighborhood Church: How to Transform Your Congregation into a Powerhouse for Mission.  The Mission and Discipleship Committees along with Session are inviting everyone to join in by reading along and participating in weekly discussion sessions during the Fellowship & Formation Hour from September 12 through October 3.

These four weeks of learning together will be structured to include children, youth, and families, as well!  Starting this Sunday (August 22), copies of the book will be available after both services each week.  There is no required cost to anyone who wants to participate, but if you’d like to make a small contribution to support this endeavor when you pick up your book, you’re welcome to do so.

After the Neighborhood Church series concludes, there will be two classes offered during the Fellowship & Formation Hour beginning October 10:

  • Hearts N Minds: An ongoing book-study and discussion-based class for adults
  • Body & Soul: A new interactive, intergenerational class for all ages—children, youth, families, and adults

Body & Soul will spend the fall using a curriculum called Seeking Justice Together.  Each week, there will be a combination of activities—stories from Scripture, music, crafts, skits, etc.—and discussion—some together as a larger, intergenerational group; some with smaller breakout groups for children/youth and adults.

No matter your age, if you are curious, playful, and have a sense of humor, this is the class for you!  It is also a wonderful opportunity to get to know other members of our congregation – both older and younger.  (We are hoping to make some portion of this learning experience available digitally, though plans are still in development.)  Parents, if you’d rather attend Hearts N Minds (or just enjoy a quiet, uninterrupted cup of coffee), you don’t have to stay with your children/youth in the Body & Soul class; space for ongoing Hospitality Time and fellowship will be available throughout the program hour.

Sunday childcare will still be available for infants and toddlers if parents would like to take advantage of that, but we’ll be inviting children – especially those pre-K and up – to remain in worship so they learn how they’re part of those spiritual practices, too!

Starting September 12, we’ll invite children to experience worship from a “PrayGround” in both the Kirk Center and Sanctuary, where volunteers will guide them in some quiet activities each week.  You’ll see more intergenerational practices in our worship services, too.  (Easy-to-learn songs that are simple and have some repetition, prayers that incorporate our bodies in movement, visual art for the liturgical seasons, etc.)  We can’t wait to see how these changes enliven our worship and create a more vibrant experience for all of us!

It is an exciting time, and we look forward to reconnecting with so many of you we’ve missed over the summer months!

Blessings for the new beginnings ahead,