Pastoral Letter: May 7, 2020

2020-05-07
Dear friends,

The sanctuary was closed eight weeks ago, and we’ve adapted well. Last Sunday about 45 people celebrated Communion online. The experience was profound. The Congregational Life Team plans for monthly online Communion during the pandemic. Our next Communion is June 7.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Please email me a digital photo of your late mother, and I will create a memorial image for this Sunday’s worship service. This is short notice, but I need to receive the photos by email no later than noon Friday.

A reminder that your Sunday offerings can be placed in the Maria St. mailbox, and Patti will collect these regularly. Cheques only, please. Thank you for your ongoing, generous financial support.

Do you know someone unable to access Facebook, Youtube or the internet? The Dial-a-Sermon number is (365) 656-0276 (note: this is a long distance call, so you’ll need a Canada-wide calling plan). Please reach out to folk you know in the congregation relying on phone connections.

Your congregation’s Pandemic Response Team continues their Sewing Initiative and Food Drive. Contact Brenda Bourdeau or the church office to receive a non-medical mask or to donate non-perishable food items.

Finally, we all miss seeing the children of Strathroy United Church. Your young, energetic, and hope-filled faces bring us joy. I invite the congregation’s children to email me pictures of their mother’s day creations (cards, gifts, breakfast-in-bed), and I will feature these pictures in the May 17th worship video. (Kids, remember to get adult permission before you send pictures.)

I hope to see you Sunday morning from 9:30am – 10:30am. No need to wear your Sunday best. No need to shave. Just check in so we can see your face or hear your voice. You are an important member of the Strathroy United Church family.

Yours faithfully,
Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison

Zoom computer access (Wednesday and Sunday)
— https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/my/bradmorrison

Or Zoom telephone access: Dial: 1 (647) 558-0588
— Meeting ID: 780-643-9540

Worship videos:
— https://www.facebook.com/strathroyunitedchurch

Or Dial-a-Sermon: (365) 656-0276
— note: this is a long distance call, so you’ll need a Canada-wide calling plan

From: brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2020 5:51 PM
To: ‘brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca’ <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Subject: Pastoral Letter – Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison – Strathroy United Church

Dear friends,

We are ready for Communion. This Sunday morning we’ll celebrate the sacrament of Communion from our homes. I invite you to join our Zoom conference call (see below for computer and telephone options) on Sunday.

The United Church permits online Communion only if we do it live. We need to be on Zoom together, at the same time, when we break bread.

Here’s how online communion works. You provide the bread and grape juice. If you don’t have bread available, a cracker or any food item is acceptable. If you don’t have grape juice (or wine, if you prefer), then milk or any drink is acceptable (or grapes). The symbolism is important: food and drink that sustains the body.

During the online communion service, you’ll be invited to eat your bread and drink your juice. Children are welcome, as always.

The Zoom chat room opens at 9:30am, and Communion starts at 10am. Here’s the agenda:
— 9:30am – 9:50am : informal fellowship (chat with others as people log in)
— 9:50am – 10:00am : group discussion of worship video
— 10:00am – 10:10am : Communion service
— 10:10am – 10:30am : informal fellowship (more chat while people log off)

During the 10 minute group discussion, I’ll unmute the individual speaker’s microphone if you have a comment or question about the recorded worship video (posted each Saturday on Facebook or dial-a-sermon).

During the 10 minute Communion service, all microphones are muted. I’ll give a brief Great Prayer of Thanksgiving, Andy will play instrumentally, and we’ll eat our bread and drink our juice together.

We need sacred moments to break into these strange and difficult times. We need to be together, reminding ourselves that we belong to this faith community. We need to remind our children that they belong. Please join us Sunday morning as we practise being the church at worship.

Yours faithfully,
Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison

Zoom computer access (Wednesday and Sunday)
https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/my/bradmorrison

Or Zoom telephone access: Dial: 1 (647) 558-0588
–Meeting ID: 780-643-9540

Worship videos:
https://www.facebook.com/strathroyunitedchurch

Or Dial-a-Sermon: (365) 656-0276
— note: this is a long distance call, so you’ll need a Canada-wide calling plan

From: brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2020 12:32 PM
To: ‘brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca’ <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Subject: Pastoral Letter – Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison – Strathroy United Church

Dear friends,

This week’s pastoral letter is short. And dedicated to one topic: Gathering.

Gathering together, being in each other’s company, fellowship, congregating, communing — these all describe an essential Christian practice.

And a problem we need to solve collectively.

Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20). How do we do this during a pandemic? Answer: online. Every Sunday morning from 9:30 – 10:30am, our Zoom chat room is open for people to gather.

Thank you for watching the worship video recording (which is also an essential Christian practice). When we worship in our sanctuary, we gather in real time, seeing each other’s faces, being the presence of God with one another.

But we cannot do this in the sanctuary during the pandemic. Instead, we’re doing it using Zoom.

I encourage you to take at least 15 minutes on Sunday morning between 9:30 – 10:30am to participate in your congregation’s gathering time — by computer or telephone (see Zoom link below). Contact me directly mid-week if you need help connecting. If you are already joining our Zoom coffee hour, then I encourage you to help another parishioner to do the same.

 

Please keep your household part of our household of faith here in Strathroy.

Yours faithfully,
Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison

Worship videos:
https://www.facebook.com/strathroyunitedchurch

Zoom (Wednesday and Sunday)
https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/my/bradmorrison

Or: Dial: 1 (647) 558-0588
–Meeting ID: 780-643-9540

From: brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2020 10:45 AM
To: ‘brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca’ <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Subject: Pastoral Letter – Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison – Strathroy United Church

Dear friends,

Thank you for your ongoing participation with Strathroy United Church ministries. One month ago we moved Sunday worship services online to Facebook. A pandemic response team was created to ensure our community outreach continued. A pastoral care team began telephone check-in calls to every household in our congregation. And you continue your generous financial support.

An unfortunate loss during the closure is Children’s Worship. I miss Sunday morning children’s time. Worship is better when we see these eager faces with boundless energy. Please help me to include our congregation’s children in the online worship services. I can include a photo or short video of your child’s art in the worship video.

Another loss brought on by the pandemic is our celebration of Holy Communion. The United Church of Canada has authorized the practice of online communion. But it must be done live during video- or tele-conferencing. Our Sunday morning Zoom coffee hour meets this criteria. We currently have 10-20 people who meet live using Zoom (by video or telephone). Before we attempt communion online, I believe a greater proportion of the congregation needs to participate live. Please join us live on Sunday morning (9:30 – 10:30am) using the connection information below.

Just a reminder that Wednesday morning Bible study continues. Friday night youth group continues. Your Council and teams continue their work. Your staff continues to serve. We are in this together, and we are not alone. We live in God’s world.

Yours faithfully,
Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison

Worship videos:
https://www.facebook.com/strathroyunitedchurch

Zoom (Wednesday and Sunday)
https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/my/bradmorrison

Or: Dial: 1 (647) 558-0588
–Meeting ID: 780-643-9540

From: brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2020 2:35 PM
To: ‘brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca’ <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Subject: Pastoral Letter – Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison – Strathroy United Church

Dear friends,

I’m sending this week’s pastoral letter a few days early to ensure you know about our Holy Week activities.

  • 5 Minute Coping Tips. On Monday of Holy Week, I posted a brief video with tips on coping psychologically during the pandemic. The video is posted on our Facebook page (see link below).

  • Wednesday Bible Study continues on Zoom at 10:30am. You can join by Zoom or telephone. To participate, see the Zoom and phone info below.

  • Memorial Flowers can be left on my porch (79 Laura Lane) with a note with the name of your loved one. You can also email memorial names to Patti (office@strathroyunitedchurch.ca) without arranging flowers. Deadline is Wednesday night for inclusion in Easter Sunday video.

  • Good Friday worship service will be posted on Facebook and Youtube. The format will be contemplative and focus on the Passion story. To view the video recording on Friday morning, see the Facebook link below.

  • The Swell is a regional youth worship service that happens annually on Good Friday @ 7pm. I organize this service with my brother, and this year’s service will be online. I’ll post links to the live stream closer to Friday. Please encourage your teens to check it out.

  • On Saturday @ 11am I’m interviewing town councillor John Brennan on Facebook Live. To view the live stream and participate in the live chat room, go to our congregation’s Facebook page. We’ll discuss issues facing Strathroy-Caradoc during this pandemic.

  • Easter Sunday worship service will be posted on Facebook and Youtube. Easter is the highest holy day in the Christian calendar, and this year’s service will be an unprecedented and extraordinary event. I encourage you to pause to worship on Sunday morning.

  • Zoom Coffee Hour continues on Sunday morning from 9:30 – 10:30am. I encourage you to gather online as a congregation. Staying connected is important, even if you can only stay a few minutes to say hi.  To participate, see the Zoom and phone info below.

Our ministries continue during the building closure. We established a Call Team to make telephone contact with everyone in the congregation in the coming weeks. Our goal is to remind you that you are not alone–you are a valued member of our church family.

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.” — John 16:33

Worship videos:

Zoom (Wednesday and Sunday)

Yours faithfully,

Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison

From: brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Sent: Thursday, April 02, 2020 11:48 AM
To: ‘brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca’ <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Subject: UPDATE – Response to COVID-19 at Strathroy United Church

Dear friends,

We are learning new ways to be the church. Our Sunday services have moved from sanctuary to online. Our outreach has moved from hospitality meals to food drives. Our pastoral care has moved from face-to-face to phone calls. We are still Strathroy United Church, and we still serve the community and world.

A few brief updates:

Offering Envelopes: Please use the Maria St. entrance mailbox for your offer envelopes. Patti B will check the mailbox regularly. Please do not leave cash in the mailbox. Please contact Patti B by email to learn about PAR, the United Church’s pre-authorized giving program.

Building Closure: Our church building is closed, and staff are working from home. John will check the building regularly.

Youth Group: Kaeleigh Berdan is exploring online options for Friday evening youth group. Contact her at kaeleighb13@hotmail.com for more information.

Holy Week: In addition to Sunday services, I’ll post a Good Friday worship service. Worship services are available at: https://www.facebook.com/strathroyunitedchurch

Easter Memorial Flowers. To have your loved one’s name included in the Easter Sunday online worship service, please email the name to Patti B (office@strathroyunitedchurch.ca). If a few people drop flowers at the front entrance of my house on 79 Laura Lane (please no lilies), I’ll include them in the video.

Remember to join us online Sunday morning for Zoom Coffee Time from 9:30 – 10:30 am. Click here to join: https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/my/bradmorrison

Thank you to the congregation’s newly formed Pandemic Response Team for organizing the food drive and phone check-in, telephoning everyone without an email address to offer care and support. I am proud of our caring lay leadership.

“Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.” — Deut 31:6

Yours faithfully,
Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison

From: brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2020 9:59 AM
To: ‘brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca’ <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Subject: UPDATE – Response to COVID-19 at Strathroy United Church

Dear friends,

As we approach our third Sunday of cancelled worship services at Strathroy United Church, I want you to know that your congregation continues important ministries in the community.

Worship. The recorded worship service (including children’s time) will be posted online Sunday morning. You can find it on our Facebook page.

Fellowship. Join our Zoom chat room Sunday morning from 9:30 – 10:30 am. You’ll find the link on our Facebook page. Or simply copy this link into your internet browser: https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/my/bradmorrison

Teaching. Our Wednesday morning Bible study continues online, from 10:30 – 11:30 am. All are welcome. Use this Zoom link to join us live: https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/my/bradmorrison

Outreach. The Council Executive approved an ad hoc Pandemic Response Team, which will coordinate the congregation’s outreach activities in the community. Look for information on our Facebook and webpage about the upcoming food drive to support our community partner agencies serving the vulnerable during the pandemic.

I encourage you to participate in the online options above. Even if you only have a limited time to check in, let others know how you are doing. I am encouraged by stories of parishioners phoning one another, leaving meals at doorsteps, and delivering groceries.

As always, I am available if you need to talk by phone (519-330-0074) or Zoom. Let us continue to hold one another in prayer, trusting that we are not alone — We live in God’s world.

Yours faithfully,
Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison

From: brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 5:45 PM
To: ‘brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca’ <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Subject: RE: UPDATE – Response to COVID-19 at Strathroy United Church

Dear friends,

Thank you for your ongoing support and patience as we respond as a congregation to pandemic developments. Your Council Executive met by email to decide next steps.

  • Sunday services are cancelled to April 5th inclusive (this includes children’s worship and fellowship/coffee time)
  • Good Friday service is cancelled
  • all in-person church programs and team meetings are cancelled but may occur by online or telephone as necessary (e.g., Wednesday morning Bible study will use Zoom)
  • Hospitality Meal is cancelled until further notice
  • Monday Soup Kitchen will continue with modifications (small prep team and distribution at Maria St. entrance)
  • in-person pastoral visitation to hospital, senior residences, and homes by Brad and the Lay Visitation Team is discontinued until further notice; however, Lay Visitors will use telephone visits and Brad remains available for pastoral emergencies
  • outside groups that use our space have been notified by the office about restricted access to the building

You are invited and encouraged to join our Sunday morning online mini-service using Facebook Live. Visit our Strathroy United Church Facebook (public) page on Sunday morning after 9:45 am. Scroll down the page until you see the live stream.

We are the church, in sickness and in health. Our ministry continues through the coronavirus pandemic. Reach out to your neighbours. Join us live for the Facebook Live stream for pre-service chat, remembering that we are not alone — We live in God’s world.

Yours faithfully,

Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison

From: brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Sent: Saturday, March 14, 2020 3:44 PM
To: ‘brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca’ <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Subject: RE: UPDATE – Response to COVID-19 at Strathroy United Church

Dear Strathroy United Church,

My apologies for yet another email this week.

Just a quick note to invite you to join us online this Sunday morning at 10am. We can’t meet in person, but I’ll use Facebook Live to broadcast at brief 15 minute online gathering. To access this online gathering, simply go to our Strathroy United Facebook page shortly before 10am at https://www.facebook.com/strathroyunitedchurch/ . Scroll down the page until you see a live video feed (look for me talking).

I’ll start the online service at 10 am, but I’ll activate the broadcast around 9:50am so that you can more easily find us. Perhaps we can use this health crisis to experiment with how to integrate online streaming for folk unable to attend on Sunday mornings.

Brad Morrison

From: brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca <brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Sent: Saturday, March 14, 2020 9:07 AM
To: ‘brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca’ <
brad@strathroyunitedchurch.ca>
Subject: UPDATE – Response to COVID-19 at Strathroy United Church

Dear friends,

As indicated in Thursday’s letter, Strathroy United Church’s Executive continues to monitor the events surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The Executive has decided to cancel Sunday’s worship service (Mar 15). This includes Sunday’s M&S soup luncheon.

Given the growing consensus around preventative measures, many local organizations are suspending activities. Similarly, public schools provincially are cancelling classes. Out of a concern for vulnerable people in the community, organizations are using the strategy of social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Executive believes it is important for us to support this public effort.

Because not all our church members and adherents can be contacted by email, please reach out to parishioners you know to help share this closure information prior to tomorrow morning worship service.

Again, we thank you for your patience, and keep one another in your prayers as always.

Yours faithfully,

Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison