Reminder for Cherokee Presbytery Pastor Zoom Call - April 6
Thinking Through Where We Are Now:
The Church Has Left the Building
Dear Saints and Friends of Cherokee Presbytery,
I''''ve seen a sign similar to the one here at any number of churches over the past few years. The message has been around for a good while. During the COVID-19 pandemic we have also lived into another phrase: T he Church Has Left the Building.
Both of these phrases have always been true. Yet today they have a power we did not imagine just a few weeks ago. In the weeks since March 13 there has been remarkable mobilization of ministry and mission within the churches of Cherokee Presbytery - and far beyond. Worship and meetings are happening through numerous online portals. Prayer groups and Bible studies meet to share concerns and learn from each other. Responses to human need through the hands of Christian love are happening. WWJD in the time of pandemic?

We know that the current reality of quarantine cannot continue forever - for the Church, our communities, state and nation, nor the world.
We trust that treatments and responses will not only alleviate the physical suffering of COVID-19, but will also provide pathways to restore wholeness.
We pray for the wisdom needed to discern in this time how we as Jesus followers can best be the Body of Christ that Paul describes.

There are numerous questions that have made their way into social media for pastors, Sessions and all people to consider as we move back from quarantine to the next step of life. Ken Braddy put forth 24 Questions Your Church Should Consider Before People Return and the Wisconsin Council of Churches offered some good resources in Returning to Church.

Leaders in science and politics are also offering information about what is next in society at large. In our Presbyterian tradition, decisions at the congregational level are made by the Session. The questions that Braddy asks and the information from Wisconsin provide useful lines of inquiry to pursue, and information to ascertain. I know from conversations with pastors and leaders these are ongoing.

A number of churches in Cherokee Presbytery have decided to continue the shelter in place practices well into May. These decisions are thoughtful reflections of the Session''''s practice of discernment and leadership. We all need to ask questions, seek information and be willing to change how we have done things. Once we do return to the "new normal" we will find some things that are familiar and some things that are very different. As we move to that time:

Be mindful of how your decisions affect others;

Be thoughtful knowing that not all may agree with you;

Be convicted that the mission and ministry of Jesus is about going out to, not coming in from;

Be humble recognizing not only your limitations, but claiming your strengths;

Be courageous to retain new ways that offer possibilities and energy while laying aside those things that do not; and

Be deliberate and steadfast in the face of our current circumstances that few imagined.
You are the body of Christ and parts of each other.
[1 Corinthians 12: 27, CEB]
In these unrelenting and unforgiving times,
May the Peace that passes understanding enfold you
May the Grace we need surround you,
May the Hope we find sustain you,
May the Thanks we have transform you,

In Christ may we find 
  • the harmony of God’s creation, 
  • redemption for all people, and 
  • the ability to live together through the power of love.

Joel

Joel L. Alvis, Jr., Ph.D.
Mission Coordinator and Stated Clerk
Cherokee Presbytery
P.O. Box 1839
Cartersville, GA 30120
678-591-8743
Cherokee Presbytery www.cherokeepresbytery.org