By Rev. Rob Mark, Pastor
Can you sense it in the air? Have you not known, have you not heard (Isaiah 40)? We are in the midst of another new unfolding in our life together. Like the blessing of the fall foliage, we are graced with the arrival of Rev. Joshua Lazard as our new Associate Pastor here at Covenant - and I couldn't be more joyful for this new chapter in our congregational life!
Rev. Joshua comes to us with an impressive resume of experience that spans academic achievements and ministry, including accompaniment with young adults in campus ministry, preaching (homiletics), teaching, public theology and innovation - all of which comes to us as blessing. But I also want to mention that Rev. Joshua comes to us with an authenticity, thoughtfulness, openness and positivity that feels like a refreshing rain in the midst of drought. The landscape around us in these COVID, racial reckoning, and troubled national leadership days finds us at times wearied - and it is such a gift for us to receive this new beginning, this new energy, this new servant leader. Our church has been working hard in the search process that led us to Joshua, and he to us, and I once again give great thanks for the collective discernment that has led us thus far on the way. As we said in worship on September 15, we specifically give thanks to dedicated and gifted work of our Associate pastor Nominating Committee - Betsy Groves (chair), Kathy Bull (clerk), Jon Schwarz, Nancy Stockford, and Kathryn Barry. And let us continue to keep this group in our prayers as they have agreed to continue the search for the next blessing (God-willing) coming our way in the form of a 10-hour a week, Coordinator for Children and Youth Christian Education.
Associate Pastor nominating committee welcomes Joshua Lazard.
It is no small challenge to welcome a new pastor into our ministry during a pandemic. So we ask for your ideas and input as we creatively seek ways for Joshua to get to know you, and vice-versa in the days and weeks ahead. He will be joining each of our committees in the coming month or two as an invited guest as one way to meet people. There will also be more informal ways to meet him in virtual coffee hours post worship, and during mid-week Wednesday evening prayer times on Zoom this fall. Let's keep him in our prayers as we do our best to continue to support and welcome Joshua in this new beginning!
As we begin October with our celebration of World Communion Sunday, we can't forget that we are in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic. Never before has our world been so deeply connected. Yet this connection stems from a place of great suffering and loss, and as our world sees just this past week, the staggering, incomprehensible number of 1 million deaths from COVID-19, we must make time to pause and grieve together. This disease as taken more lives than H.I.V., dysentery, malaria, influenza, cholera and measles - combined. And in addition to those lives lost, there are several more millions who lives have been changed - those who have lost loved ones, lost jobs, or lost the stability in health they once had as the mostly unrecognized "long-haulers" who post recovery are still plagued with symptoms. "How Long O Lord?" is most certainly our collective cry. But as some of you have recently reminded me, it is important that in the midst of all the other added tasks in our busy life together of caring for each other and seeking to follow Jesus of Justice - we must not lose sight of this massive loss. We stand together in solidarity. We stand together in this pain. We stand together in prayer, in love, in hope for healing. Join us in worship on Oct. 4 as we pray for our world - but I also encourage you to take some time to focus in on this hard reality - perhaps taking into prayer the image of our ever-present God who keeps track of our tears in a bottle.
And finally, as November looms, it is imperative that as people of faith, our voice and the voice of the most disenfranchised around us are heard in the halls of decision-making. Therefore, it goes without saying, please vote. And vote with climate jubilee justice in mind. And please think intentionally about anyone else in your circles of connection who might feel discouraged or cynical about registering or voting this year, and do all you can to encourage them to engage. There is certainly much to despair over - but our faith calls us to hope and to action especially in the face of odds and challenges. This election very well may be the most significant as it relates to justice, the climate, equality, peace and liberation in our lifetimes. Join us for two important adult eds focused on the ins and outs of voting, chances you can support broader efforts to help get out the climate and justice vote, and the Ballot Question 2 related to Rank Choice Voting in MA - on Sundays after worship on Oct. 4 and Oct. 18. You will also hear more from me in the coming weeks about an initiative I am involved in with others from the Central Boston Clergy Association and the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston to help provide an active, visual and consistent interfaith presence for peace with justice in the wake of the election across Boston.
Friends, in our celebrating, in our grieving, in our acting for justice - may the Sweet Holy Spirit guide us and hold us.
Together, held in that holy grip,
By Rob Mark
IMAGINE a choir that deeply inspires, bringing diverse voices and keyboard seamlessly together across time and space to remind us we are all called to be dreamers working for a day where the world may be as one.
Good news - no need to imagine it! For here at Church of the Covenant, such a choir, and such a hope, can be found. I hope some day you'll join us! Each Sunday, 10:30 am, on Zoom.
Thanks again, Tom & choir!!
Farewell For Now
Covenant knows transitions. While we are sad when people leave, we give thanks for our shared ministry and time together. Adam Wallis (see photo) has been with Covenant for many years, and played a central role in the formerly called "Food, Faith, Fellowship" young adults group (especially during the 5-year interim ministry of Rev. Jennifer Wegter-McNelly). Below is the latest from Adam, that he agreed I could pass along to all of us. We give great thanks for Adam and send him forth with our deepest blessings. ~Rob
"I wanted to reach out and say that I am no longer living in Boston. My State Street office building will not reopen until next year, likely because they have an open-office environment. Rather than continue paying the expensive rent around Boston where I'm not going into work, I decided to continue working remotely in Ohio with family (where I've been since March) for however long social distancing remains necessary. I returned in late May to grab the rest of my belongings. It was an unceremonious goodbye to a city where I acquired so many memories, both wonderful and hard. I will be moving to the city I have long wanted to live in - Chicago's Logan Square on 9/24 (though keeping my Ohio swing-state status for voting :).
"As much as it pains me to say, I will not likely be returning nor will I get the chance in the foreseeable future to commune with the beautiful, Christlike people of Church of the Covenant. I cannot adequately express how much Covenant has meant to me, and how warm and loving the people were from my very first day and through many hard days. More than Covenant's love for me, I've been overwhelmed and humbled with the opportunity to witness Covenant's pursuit of justice for the oppressed outside our walls. My only regret is that I was not more personally involved in those efforts. I promise you and the rest of the church that I will seek out similarly minded and motivated congregations wherever I end up living, and in that way I will carry you all with me."
Neighbors in Need and Peace and
Global Witness Special Offerings -
By Faith Perry
On World Communion Sunday, October 4, we celebrate the unity of Christians worldwide. We celebrate our connections to Nicaragua, Malawi and the Congo as well as our connections with congregations in every neighborhood of Boston and the suburbs.
On World Communion Sunday we also give to support both our denominations' efforts to bring about peace and reconciliation. Both the UCC Neighbors in Need offering and the PCUSA Peace and Global Witness fund program help to bring people together in countries and communities experiencing racism, conflict and deprivation.
Part of the total collected will support the Boston Area Gleaners, a local group which collects food that would otherwise be wasted from local farms to provide fresh produce to local food pantries and feeding programs, all of which are experiencing higher than usual demand.
For more information visit the following websites and give generously:
At Covenant's giving site
click the button GIVE NOW and find the "Peacemaking Offering" category for your gifts, or you can send a check to COTC at 67 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.
Covenant Book Group
By Barbara Darling
For our Covenant book group discussion in October we have agreed to read and discuss Ibram X. Kendi's How to Be an Anti-Racist. We'll meet via Zoom to discuss that book on Sunday, October 25, at 5 pm.
As always, you're welcome to join whether you have ever attended Covenant's book discussion group before, and whether or not you've read the book. We will send out the zoom link as the day approaches.
By Christine James for Climate Julilee Team
The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen,
Over the summer, through a sermon series, Adult Ed sessions, book discussions and more, Rev. Rob and the Climate Jubilee Team have been helping us to better understand the foundations in our faith of Jubilee and its potential to help us better respond to God's call to Care for all Creation today, especially in the face of the climate chaos our world is experiencing.
Among the many subjects that the Climate Jubilee Team has brought to the congregation's attention, perhaps the timeliest given this year's upcoming election is the Climate Justice Voter Challenge. As a refresher, Covenant's Council voted unanimously in August to join the Congregation Climate Justice Voter Challenge initiated by the Southern New England Conference of the UCC. Since then, the Council and the Climate Jubilee Team have been urging all Covenant members and friends to sign the pledge, too. By signing on, one simply says that they "pledge to be a consistent voter" and "always to prioritize caring for God's creation in how I vote."
To give you a sense of what difference your Climate Justice Vote can make, it's worth reviewing some of the changes related to Creation Care that have occurred in our country since Inauguration Day in January 2017. According to a July 15, 2020, New York Times article, via the Environmental Protection Agency, Interior Department, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and other federal agencies, the current administration has reversed a total of one hundred environmental regulations thus far, with another thirty-two in progress (and that tally does not include the easing of dozens more environmental rules granted to fossil fuel companies and others during the pandemic).
Every vote matters in every election. As the above brief overview of what has happened in the past four years hopefully makes clear, the outcome of the 2016 election has had direct and long-lasting consequences for Creation Care. The same will be true of the 2020 election. With that in mind, please consider following the Creation Care Voter Pledge "to be a consistent voter, and ... always prioritize caring for God's creation in how I vote."
Congo Mission Network Launches
Virtual Annual Conference
By Anne Crane
On Wednesday, September 16, the PCUSA's Congo Mission Network successfully launched the 2020 Annual Conference. There were more than 100 people from the D. R. Congo to California participating in this Zoom meeting, which included a worship service and a powerful sermon preached by Rev. Denise Anderson. Co-Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly of the PCUSA, Rev. Anderson now serves with the Presbyterian Mission Agency as coordinator for racial and intercultural justice.
The Confession of Belhar, which was written in response to the evils of apartheid in South Africa and eventually adopted by the PCUSA, is serving as a framework for this year's CMN conference, as we are examining the legacy of racism and ethnic conflicts in both countries. The conference theme is "Unity, Justice & Reconciliation in the U.S. and the Congo: Christian Faith in the Time of COVID-19." Covenant's Mission and Advocacy Committee gave a donation to CMN this year to help make it possible for more people in the Congo to participate with their cell phones. Thank you, Covenant!
|News from the Pews
We got a sneak preview in Zoom church recently of some of our Covenant four-legged family members who may be joining us on Sunday, October 11, for our annual Blessing of the Animals service!
Evelyn Kimber is pleased to share that Boston Mayor Walsh has proclaimed Saturday, October 24, Boston Veg Food Fest Day in the City of Boston. On that day, the 25th Anniversary celebration Boston Veg Food Fest will compact the usual two-day event into a mighty two hours that bring together a roster of the most celebrated experts in the world of plant-based nutrition, culinary arts, sports, and sustainable, animal-friendly living for concise, lively sharing of their wisdom. The event will livestream free from 10 am to noon-ish, and will kick off a Virtual Vegan Marketplace of foods, fashion, and daily living products that help us live in greater harmony with animals and the earth.
Under the Mango Tree
By Tim Groves for Nica Companions
Note: This column will be a monthly sharing of stories from our sister church community, Dulce Nombre de Jesus, in northwest Nicaragua.
At Covenant's Zoom Sunday service on August 30, our Climate Jubilee Committee asked the Nica Companions group to invite sharing of Scriptural Reflection from our sister community and from Entre Culturas, our facilitating group. (Please find a recording of this sharing on our COTC website
Now we have just received a monthly Community Letter, see below, and Dulce Nombre thanks us for inviting them to share their reflections. Also in the letter is news of life in the village, including news about good rains for crops and the Covid-19 situation.
Please email one of us Nica Companions if you have a message you would like to send to the village to thank them personally.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We were very happy to be part of the important Celebration of the Word that you had on August 30th and to be able to help you with our reflections through internet and through photos. It is very nice that you have asked us for our help to be able to be present as you celebrate the Word of God and also that other people can see us and know the trajectory, the history of our Hermanamiento. Thank you for allowing Dulce Nombre de Jesús Church to be a part of your life and all that you do.
We also want to tell you that the rains have been good. Corn and sesame have already been planted. We hope there will be a good harvest. It has been raining. The river and the wells have a lot of water. This is part of the joy of the community.
We are in the month of celebrating our homeland. On September 15th we celebrated Independence Day. It is almost 200 years of independence for Central American countries and we celebrate with cultural presentations. The elementary and middle school children showed their talents through folkloric dancing and reciting poems. [Note: Two of the children in this photo are in Mildren's family: Franlli(daughter), Aslin(niece).]
We have had some very difficult months since the beginning of the pandemic, but we have been overcoming them. Thank God our country has been overcoming the pandemic, always putting preventive measures into practice and above all asking God because He is the one who has control of our lives. There are cases of Covid but not as many as there were months ago.
We as a Church pray and ask God to accompany the Church of 14 de Septiembre. These months have been difficult for them. There has been a lot of grief in the community. Members and relatives of members of the Church of 14 de Septiembre have died, especially a great man, Rafael Valdez [father of Eduardo of Entre Culturas], who was always present in the church and was the coordinator of the community. He was a man who left a great legacy, a man who left an inspiring trajectory for us to follow. We have asked for strength and resignation for the Valdez family. We are making ourselves present through our prayers to support the Community of 14 de Septiembre.
We are doing very well in the community. Ruber Espinoza is the manager of the Dulce Nombre de Jesús baseball team that is playing in the municipal league and they are fighting for the peasant league championship. So there is a lot of joy and fun on Saturdays and Sundays. And we are good. In spite of everything we are fine. The important thing is that we are healthy and we move forward, trusting in The Creator who is the only one who guides us on the right path.
We also thank the Between Cultures group who makes this contact with you possible. It is a team with a lot of energy, a team that has always been thinking of all of us, of both communities, so I also want to thank them and we hope they are well too. Thank you!
Mildren for the Dulce Nombre Community
By Anne Crane
Prior to their regularly scheduled meeting on September 8, the Covenant Council held two votes by email and met once through Zoom to consider the recommendations put forward by the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee.
In a Zoom meeting on Sept. 5, Council voted to amend the terms of the charge to the APNC by changing the current settled three-quarter time Associate Pastor position to a 2-year designated, one-half time position, and create a separate 10-hour a week position to focus solely on Children and Youth Christian Education.
The congregation approved this amendment in a special meeting held before the worship service on Sept. 6. After the service, during which Rev. Joshua Lazard preached the sermon, the congregation voted unanimously to extend to him a call to become our next settled called half-time Associate Pastor for a designated period of two years beginning on September 15, 2020. This was followed by a discussion of the Terms of Call recommended by the APNC, and a unanimous vote by the congregation to accept the terms. The congregation expressed their thanks to the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee for their excellent work and extended a heartfelt welcome to Rev. Joshua Lazard.
In addition to the above mentioned actions, on August 29 Council voted by email on a motion from the Personnel Committee with regard to the use of our building during this time of COVID-19. The motion, which was passed, requested that Council create a task force to develop a draft policy on use of and access to the sanctuary. Such a policy will take into consideration the safety and well-being of our staff and all who enter the sanctuary and the responsible stewardship of our building resources.
Highlights from the regularly scheduled Council meeting on Sept. 8 include the following points as we look to October and beyond:
- Updates on the continuing Climate Jubilee theme, which has been integrated into September worship and which will continue in October with a new ecumenical liturgy, Jubilee for the Earth.
- An update on the Environmental Voter Project and plans to have an adult education time on Oct. 4 to share constructive actions to support voting, especially for environmental issues.
- An update on plans by the Christian Formation for Children and Youth (CFCY) committee for a series about "fair" and "unfair" in Godly Play. The goal will be to lay a foundation for talking about injustice and prejudice and to begin anti-bias education in our classes. Kathy Bull is exploring this possibility.
- An update from the Committee on Youth and Children's Education (CYCE) on plans to connect with younger children by sending them boxes with fun activities they can do at home and to engage in age-appropriate activities for the youth. Kaitlyn and Blake, who have been working with the youth, will continue to do so as long as we are still meeting remotely, but they have moved to New Hampshire, so new teachers will be needed when we are meeting in person again.
Special Committee Reports:
- Members of the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee have drafted a job description for a CYCE Coordinator and have begun circulating it.
- A Building Use Team has been formed and is drafting a policy on the use of and access to the sanctuary. Members of the team are Barbara Darling, Liz Pizza, Rob Mark and Bill Brown (with assistance offered by Trudy Veldman if needed).
There was a brief discussion at the end of the meeting about when we might be able to return to in person worship. Rev. Rob noted that both the UCC and the PCUSA are constantly monitoring the situation in the country in order to make recommendations to local congregations, but we will have to wait until there is a widely available vaccine for COVID-19.
Note: If your October birthday does not appear on this list, please notify Hillary in the church office so we can include you next year!
4 Liz Vizza, Karen Henry
8 David McKinney
11 Kay Carleton
12 Theodor Langenbruch
16 Fred Lopes
18 Mocky Day
23 Joe Waters
24 Wendy Woodfield, Blake Fox
25 Kaitlyn Martin Fox
28 Jonathan Schwarz
29 Holly Humphreys
30 Kathryn Craig
|October 2020 Calendar
| About This Issue
October 2020 Covenant News
Editor and Graphics: Evelyn Kimber
Template: Harry Forsdick
Deadline for the November 2020 Covenant News is Sunday, October 25. Please email your submissions to Evelyn Kimber at email@example.com .