you while looking to the future. At Annual Conference next week, Rev. Drew Willson will be appointed full-time as the pastor at Boulevard on Broad UMC. It has been our joy as a congregation to have Drew working and serving among us the past two years. We’re so grateful for Drew’s ministry among our young adults.
Personally, I have valued Drew’s friendship. As clergy, we often learn a great deal from each other as we work together. I’ve learned much from Drew. I’ve especially appreciated his gifts for visioning new forms of ministry and leading others in processes to discern and implement new forms of mission. Drew has worked diligently the last year working with a group of key lay leaders and young adults through a process called “Dream Like Jesus.” That process involved prayer, sharing stories of our spiritual journeys, and asking ourselves what a kingdom-sized dream for ministry would look like for us at this time and place for our church. That dream was to focus not simply on our well-being as a congregation, but on a vision for mission in our city. That dream, we learned, would probably be consistent with our gifts for ministry and have some continuity of things we have felt God calling us to do in the past. This team spent much time praying about this and crafting various versions of this renewed Jesus like dream. The vision they developed is stated like this: Richmond is a community where every person is thriving and has access to nutritious food and learning opportunities.
You’ll be hearing more about this in days and weeks to come. Our Council has affirmed this vision and we’ve had the opportunity to share it in a couple of congregational settings. This vision will be a touchstone as our Post-Covid Re-Entry Group begins their work of discerning what our future ministry will look like as we emerge from the pandemic.
I, as many of you, have greatly appreciated Drew’s role in worship leadership and preaching. His presence has been a great blessing in our worship together, particularly during this season of pandemic as we’ve learned how to worship online and now rejoice to a return to in-person worship.
Drew’s passion for ministry revolves around planting new things and renewing existing forms of Christian community. We rejoice with Drew that circumstances have evolved that make it possible for him to give himself full-time to this effort of seeing what new form of church might emerge as he and Boulevard continue their work of re-envisioning that congregation’s future as one of our sister urban congregations. No doubt we will continue to work as colleagues in ministry and find ways for our congregations to collaborate in mission together.
Another opportunity we have to support and encourage each other this Sunday is in the celebration of the baptism of Arley Catherine Adams. Arley is the daughter of John and Rochelle Adams and the sister of proud brother Elliott. Baptism is such a special time in our congregation. We know that we not only witness the vows Arley’s parents make on her behalf, but we as a congregation renew our own baptismal vows, remember God’s gift and call to us, and pledge ourselves as a congregation to do all in our power to help Arley come to a personal faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.
Finally, we have tried to care for one another during this pandemic by taking precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus. These measures have included things like wearing masks, social distancing, and sanitizing our hands. We are so grateful that now circumstances permit us to begin to relax some of these standards. And we are grateful for your patience in observing these measures with us.
At our last Council meeting, the Council approved some new protocols. Beginning this Sunday, we will allow those who are speaking in the service and singing to do so unmasked. This accords not only with current state guidelines but also with the updated recommendations of the Virginia Annual Conference. We hope that this will make communication more effective.
We do ask that those who attend worship the next several weeks continue to wear masks. However, beginning on Sunday, July 4, the wearing of masks in worship will become optional for those who are fully vaccinated. We will continue to ask that we observe social distancing of 3 feet. And we will continue to follow an abbreviated order of worship since our Annual Conference continues to recommend limiting the time we spend together in indoor settings.
Let’s help each other remember that in all these things, God is with us!