When I came to Orchard Covenant Church as your Interim Pastor in February, who could have guessed how much life was about to change as a result of the Coronavirus? We had no idea! In March, I felt like I was just starting to get to know you when the Coro-navirus came on the scene. One Sunday we were just starting to take precautions about the virus and a week later gatherings of more than ten people were shut down. We all started to learn a new vocabulary. Phrases we never heard of before–“social distanc-ing,” “essential workers” and “PPE”–are now every day words.
When I came in February, the vocabulary I wanted to learn was some Swahili phrases, one phrase each week. I got off to a good start with “karibu,” “asante” and “bwana asifiwe” (my favorite), but that project got derailed along with so many other things we were all doing. I wish COVID-19 didn’t interfere with us spending more time together. That is just another part of the losses we have all been experiencing—losses such as losing a job, seeing friends at school, or the chance to be with friends and loved ones.
Despite losing the opportunity to gather in person for worship services, Orchard Covenant Church is still alive and well! You all are living proof that the church is not a building but God’s people on a mission. And while COVID-19 has meant there has been a lot we have not been able to do together, I am impressed by the way you keep growing in your faith in Christ, care for one another, make the most of opportunities to connect online, and live out God’s mission beyond the walls of the church. I’m grateful that a silver lining in all of this has been the lively time of prayer we’ve had online on Sunday afternoons.
All the upheaval and change of COVID-19 has often overshadowed the other big changes happening in the church—Pastor Nancy’s retirement and the calling of Pastor Nick and Pastor Karen. We had important con-versations about change, loss and hopes during our “Memories and Hopes” discussions, and I hope those conversations will continue. As was noted in those discussions, thinking through this transition in pastors has understandably taken a back seat to the changes caused by the Coronavirus. But for the sake of your future ministry and for healthy relationships, I encour-age you to continue to pay attention to the losses that came with Pastor Nancy’s retirement along with the hopes you have for the church’s ministry with your Pastors Nick and Karen. To borrow the words of the Apostle Paul, I am confident that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it (Phil. 1:6).
I am grateful for our time together, Orchard Covenant Church. It’s been good! My heartfelt thanks to those of you who shared such kind and affirming words dur-ing the prayer meeting after worship on my last Sun-day. Thank you also for your generous contribution to Kataluma and for the gift card to Legal Seafood. Teri and I will enjoy that! While I am no longer your pas-tor, I am happy to keep in touch as your friend. I will be praying for you and the Munns and look forward to hearing how God is at work at OCC.