Newsletters

Sunday, June 20, 2021

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Dear St. Luke family:   

This Sunday we’ll jump back into the Old Testament with one of the most famous stories in the Bible: David and Goliath.  Even if you never went to Sunday school, you’ve heard of David and Goliath, because it’s become synonymous with an underdog victory over a bigger, stronger opponent.  In just the last two weeks, I’ve heard “David and Goliath” referenced in two separate news stories, one having to do with the soaring prices of GameStop stocks last January, and the other having to do with a softball pitcher from a small Oklahoma college who took her team farther in the playoffs than anyone expected.  We all love an underdog story: Rocky, The Rookie, Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings, The Karate Kid, Remember the Titans, Moneyball, Pretty in Pink, The Mighty Ducks, even Cinderella – I could go on and on, and I’m sure you could, too.  We’ll take a look at the dangers of a story like this, as well as the hope it gives us.

Don’t forget Eric Beene’s challenge to us last Sunday.  Eric preached about Jesus’ parables describing the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God was Jesus’ primary metaphor for what God wants for God’s world, what this world would look like if we allowed God to be the ruler of our hearts and minds.  Jesus used agricultural metaphors because he spoke to an agrarian culture.  He compared the Kingdom of God to seeds scattered on various types of ground, where some seeds take root and others don’t.  He compared it to a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds that spreads like, well, a weed.  He used household metaphors as well, comparing it to a tiny bit of yeast that leavens a whole loaf, to coins that were lost and then found, to a pearl of great price, to a treasure buried in a field, to a son returned home to a welcoming father.  Eric challenged us to look at our ordinary lives, and to come up with contemporary metaphors.  My midweek video on Facebook expands on this, and you can find it here

This Sunday, masks and social distancing are optional in worship in the sanctuary.  If you are not vaccinated or just feel more comfortable doing so, please feel free to wear a mask.  We will respect everyone’s needs for space and safety; we’ll continue to provide worship on Zoom; and we won’t start coffee hour for a few weeks.  We’ll plan a celebratory welcome back when we do – stay tuned.

Please keep our Pastor Nominating Committee in your prayers as they begin their search.

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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Church Reopening Practices

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Dear St. Luke family:

This coming Tuesday, June 15, is the date of California’s “Grand Reopening,” when most restrictions imposed during the pandemic will be lifted.  Fifteen months ago, we followed science (and Jesus) into the pandemic, and now we will follow science (and Jesus) out.  Science says that if people are vaccinated, they have minimal risk in participating in normal activities.

So, it is with both gratitude and caution that your reopening team announces the practices we’ll put in place at St. Luke going forward:

  • We will not ask for proof of vaccination to attend worship or other church functions, but we ask that people decide for themselves, based on their vaccination status, whether they feel safe and/or comfortable participating in worship in the sanctuary or other activities at church.
  • We ask that people self-assess their physical condition, and stay home if they are not feeling well.
  • We will no longer require masks, but we recommend that people continue to wear masks if they have not been vaccinated or if they are more comfortable doing so.
  • We will not require worshipers to sit 6 feet apart, but we invite people to decide for themselves how much physical distancing they need, and we all respect those choices.
  • We will continue to pass the peace without touching for now.
  • We will permit singing in worship.
  • The full choir will not perform in worship until fall, but small ensembles will perform this summer, and they will remain at least 12 feet from worshipers.
  • We will not take temperatures or prepare for contact tracing.
  • We will continue to worship both in the sanctuary and on Zoom for now.
  • We will celebrate communion at least one more time with the pre-packaged kits, and then make a determination about safe communion practices going forward.

It’s been a long, strange trip.  None of us has experienced anything like this.  May our joy that we are nearly at the end of the pandemic inspire us to act on behalf of the people and places in the world still struggling with COVID19, and to address the inequality the pandemic exposed. 

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor   

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Sunday, June 13, 2021

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Dear St. Luke family:

This Sunday we’ll welcome the Rev. Eric Beene to our pulpit.  Eric is the Transitional Mission Presbyter for the Presbytery of the Redwoods.  I will be leading worship on Sunday, as well, but Eric will preach the Word.  When I planned this guest preaching spot, I didn’t know it would be the week our younger daughter would be in town.  I haven’t seen either of our daughters since October 2020.  I’m delighted that it’s worked out that when I finally get to see one of them, it’s a week that I’m not responsible for writing a sermon.

In case you aren’t fluent in Presbyterian-speak: A presbytery is a regional governing body made up of equal numbers of minister members (like me) and elected elders from congregations.  Redwoods Presbytery runs from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border on a narrow strip along the coast.  It guides churches in making decisions about calling pastors, leads would-be ministers through the preparation for ministry process, helps congregations that are experiencing conflict, trains pastors in healthy boundaries, provides support for pastors, and assists congregations in all kinds of transitions. 

If you have been involved in the presbytery in the past couple of decades, you may have known Bob Conover, the recently retired Mission Presbyter.  Bob Conover was very good at his job, and well-loved.  When he retired, many of us threw up our hands and said no one could possibly replace Bob.  Eric Beene is a terrific reminder to all of us that there are leaders out there with gifts and skills, and that the Holy Spirit will send them our way.  Redwoods Presbytery is blessed to have Eric Beene’s leadership.

On Monday night, St. Luke’s Session approved the Mission Study Report.  It is an excellent document, a gorgeous report, a wonderful representation of St. Luke and its ministries.  We all owe a huge thank you and a rousing round of applause to the Mission Study Team: George Tuttle (chair), Leigh Ann Antieri, Michael Baranowski, Elaine DiPalma, Laura Hislop, Joanne Larson, Carolee Mech, Erich Miller, and Beth Potillo-Miller for their beautiful work.  I recommend that you read it, because it will make you proud.  We’ll make sure it’s posted on St. Luke’s website and will send out a link once it is uploade.  The Pastor Nominating Committee (the PNC) will now use that report to create a Ministry Information Form, which is essentially our “help wanted” ad for a new pastor.

You had to say goodbye to a beloved pastor, but there are leaders out there with gifts and skills suited to St. Luke.  The Holy Spirit has been at work in your Mission Study Team and will be at work in your PNC.  You are one step closer to finding that person who will lead you through the next phase of St. Luke’s ministry.

Congratulations to the Mission Study Team on a job well done!  Please hold the PNC in your prayers as they begin their search for your new pastor.

Grace and peace,
Joanne Whitt
Interim Pastor

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