It’s a muggy St. Louis summer day. It’s a day when we should be watching our beloved Cardinals play baseball or waiting for the Blues to dominate the ice. Neither one will happen, but still I’m filled with gratitude and joy.

I’m excited to announce that our online worship services have continued to grow in attendance! Last week we had more than 100 “views” of the service, which is certainly more than we have for in person worship. I’m excited that our service for prayer and witness on Thursday night included friends from across St. Louis and the nation. I’m excited that the vital ministries of our church continue: our mission committee is active, and different groups from the church are meeting weekly.

Woodlawn Chapel is open—even though we’re not yet gathering in person.

I want you to know that Woodlawn Chapel’s Session takes quite seriously the overall health and safety of our members and community. As part of our Good Faith Conditions for ministry during the pandemic, we are closely watching numbers of cases of coronavirus in our area, practicing social distancing measures, and supporting those whose age or underlying health conditions places them at greater risk. We are resuming more typical office hours at work, though the building is not open to the public. According to county guidelines, we ask persons entering the building to record their temperature and wear a mask. Worship services continue to be online. For more information about Good Faith Conditions, please click here.

We are exploring opportunities to begin hosting small group activities. Next week, our Kid’s Club will have a socially distanced meeting for a limited number of youth (all of whom have parental permission to attend). By the middle of June, we are planning to host small groups in the pavilion. These events will be limited in number, and you will be asked to RSVP in advance. It’s a first step toward eventually returning to in person events.
As the number of infections decrease, we will move toward in person worship. The reality is that the coronavirus will continue to require adjustments and changes. Our Good Faith Conditions take note of this and will guide us as we discern together our next steps in ministry.

In all of this, God is faithful. God’s love surrounds us, and God’s hope penetrates the cracked and broken places of our world. That brings me joy as well.

Our world is indeed broken, and nowhere is this more evident than our divided politics. We are immersed in a great societal struggle, much of which emerges from historical racial inequities. This unfortunately can lead to hurt feelings among friends, family, and church members. We each have differing ways of viewing the world, and at times these differences and opinions are manifest on social media posts or conversations. However, I believe we can hold and honor differences and remain in communion with each other. We can model a way of being in the world that is different than the one portrayed by the media. We can live as siblings in Christ without attacking the validity of differing view points. We can live together with differences as we see the image of God in each other. This is what allows us to work for the peace for which Christ prayed — a peace that is achieved by loving, learning, and living together.

In Christ,