Covenant News
Presbyterian Church USA
United Church of Christ 
September 2021
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Open Newbury Street
Pastor Letter
By Rev. Rob Mark, Lead Pastor

Beloved Church,
 
We enter a second September under the weight of COVID-19’s 4th wave.
We enter these final weeks of summer with heavy hearts for Afghanistan and Haiti.
We enter another school, work, or retirement year with anxieties and burdens.
And so, it is high time once again to listen as that mystic rabbi from occupied Palestine emerges from the chaos of his time and unfurls the scroll of Isaiah… “[Friends,] the Breath of God is upon me [so, breathe deep Covenant!], and has anointed me, to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to those imprisoned, recovery of vision to those confused about the journey ahead, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of God’s jubilee. [Are you with me? Now, breathe again beloveds…]*”  
*lines in brackets are my own additions
 
Friends, it may not feel like it at times, but the Jubilee of Jesus is still with us, still before us, still emerging, still beckoning us to hope. We all stand to find liberation from our burdens and conjure deeper solidarity of neighbor-love in its arrival. So, this month, this fall, this year – whatever comes along – let’s rise up and greet it!
 
One way we plan to celebrate some of the jubilate-joy of Jesus-jubilee this fall is to hold our first in-person worship service in our sanctuary (open to those who pre-register) since March 15, 2020!! Our current plan is to hold this service at 67 Newbury Street on Sunday, September 12, at our usual 10:30am time, while simultaneously still providing the chance for people to participate online (Zoom & YouTube live). More details for this hybrid service and the protocols we have established in order to participate (including mask wearing, vaccinations and physical distancing) will be forthcoming.

Our overall intention this fall is to continue to listen closely to public health guidance and adjust/ pivot accordingly to keep people and our most vulnerable safe in light of the delta variant, while also keeping the very real mental/ emotional/ spiritual needs of our community in mind and heart. We all deeply miss being physically together and we feel at this point there are some ways we can do so responsibly this fall. And also, we deeply love how on any given Sunday in worship, we have beloved members coming together into one place (on Zoom) from Vermont, Maine, Cape Cod, Washington, Kentucky, Tennessee, China, New Mexico and _______! This is a new reality for us and not to be minimized as we also take steps to gather in person when possible. As the Spirit has broken open for us this year, the diaspora is us and our commitment moving forward in our life together is to continue to be the church in multiple watersheds and time zones as best we can.

With the Spirit’s leading, with technology, and with our commitment to one another and the future community of Covenant we have not yet met, we believe so much more is possible than we can imagine! I want to thank the rest of our hybrid worship team that has been hard at work for this past year doing the detailed ground work to make this a possibility. I also continue to ask for your forbearance and extra wells of patience, as this will be another trial and error autumn.
 
Finally, as it relates to the wider world and planet that we hold in prayer, here are some specific ways you may feel led to take action/ become more educated:
 
 
Haiti response.
 
Climate justice (thanks to our Climate Jubilee Team).
 
So friends, this fall, let’s: Stayed tuned. Stay connected. Keep breathing. Expect joy. 
 
In the peace of Christ,
Rob
 
P.S. Join us on September 23 Presbytery meeting 7pm on Zoom where Rev. Rob has been invited to begin the meeting by providing a land acknowledgement for what we now commonly refer to as Boston’s Back Bay
Update on Renew the Light Campaign to Save Our Tiffany Ornamental Windows
By Lucy Williams, Building Committee

Our Renew the Light campaign is moving forward. We are reaching out to our friends and diaspora and now can begin to seek foundation funding. We want to tell outside funders that 100% of the congregation has pledged, so we hope that the few of you members who have not yet pledged will do so as soon as possible. Donations to fulfill pledges can be made on-line at cotcbos.org/give.html, then click Give Now, then click Renew the Light/Tiffany Windows.

On August 19, several members of the church visited the Serpentino studio in Needham to actually see the work that is being done on the seven Clerestory windows that have currently been removed. It was an amazing experience. The windows were much more seriously damaged than we had known. Some of the windows were literally shattered and the pieces were about to rain down into the sanctuary (photo below left.) The artisans from Serpentino had to tape each window’s glass pieces when they were removed in order to insure that they would survive transportation to the studio for restoration (photo below right.)
Photo left: Masking tape identifies cracks that need to be repaired.
Photo right: Clear tape holding glass pieces together for transport.
In addition, we learned that window #3 (at right) had been repaired many years ago, probably long before any of us were born, but was repaired with non-Tiffany glass and had an entirely different pattern and type of glass.

Serpentino is restoring this window with its original Tiffany glass.
Climate Jubilee Team Updates

Covenanters had a great and fun outing on the August 29 Jubilee Jaunt in Middlesex Fells just north of Boston. Thank you to Diane Lauber for organizing, and to Syd Smith for sharing botany tips from his extensive knowledge of area flora.
Diane, Ellice, Joe, Hannah, Suzy, Theodore, Rachel, Syd, Holly, Anita, David, Tom
Climate Jubilee Link of the Month

It is good to celebrate a victory in the struggle against climate change! A federal judge in Alaska blocked construction permits for a massive oil drilling project in response to a lawsuit by a coalition of environmental groups. The suit successfully argued that the federal government had failed to consider the vast project's impact on wildlife, and had excluded greenhouse gas emissions in its analysis of the environmental effects of the project. Read more:

News from the Remote Pews
Compiled by Linda Pursley

Covenant Diaspora member Kay Olm writes from her home in Bend, Oregon: Thank you everyone for your prayers, thoughts, cards and calls. Your ongoing support has been making a difference in my leukemia journey! After the initial four months of treatment, it looks like my current low blood counts are from chemo, not progressive disease…Let’s celebrate!!! 

If you’d like to follow, here is the link to my CaringBridge site: www.caringbridge.org/visit/kayolm
Above is Kay with granddaughter Sydney and grandson Hunter.
Back to live orchestra music! Anita Gram had the opportunity to play
violin in Newton for a July Pops concert (left) and at the Hatch Shell in
Boston in August (right.)
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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.

In last month's Under the Mango Tree, the Nicaragua Companions shared the long letter from Dulce Nombre describing their current food scarcity because of insufficient rains in April and May. Below is the summary paragraph at the end of this July Letter:

"To conclude the meeting, the community, with embarrassment but also trusting in their relationship with Covenant, is seeing the need to once again ask Covenant for more food aid due to the shortage of food caused by the lack of rains in the first part of the rainy season. Meanwhile, the community has committed to devising solutions to reduce vulnerability to these situations of lack of rain, taking into account that the community is located within the so-called "Dry Corridor" and that the projections are that in the future droughts in this region will be more frequent and more extreme."

After receiving this Community Letter from the village, our Nicaragua Companions considered at our monthly meeting how we at Covenant should respond. With Treasurer Faith Perry's help, we reviewed the Nicaragua Account in Covenant's current budget; we concluded that with the funds remaining from yearly Mission & Advocacy funding and from special donations from congregation members to Nicaragua Food Relief, we would have sufficient funds to continue our monthly sharing of $1,350 for food relief. We are fortunate as a church community to have gathered this level of funding. In aiding our Nicaragua Siblings at this time of awareness of climate-affected change and our commitment to Climate Jubilee, we in Nicaragua Companions believe that continuing this food aid is vital in accompanying each other as we seek to learn to limit the destruction that our larger systems have caused. The following is the letter that Diane Lauber wrote, with input from Kathy Bull, Barbara Englesberg and Linda Pursley, to describe our ability to continue our accompaniment in this way.

August 12, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We were grateful to receive the report of your community gathering, reflections and communication. Thank you to EC[Entre Culturas] for getting that to us. 

We are so sorry to hear of the distressful situation that you are in. We understand that the increasing costs of the ‘basic basket’ combined with the lack of harvest makes it impossible for you to buy what you need. We can only imagine how difficult it is to manage everyday life while the stress of such an unknown future is hanging over you. 

 We want to tell you that we will continue to send the same monthly money transfers to support food for the community until January, 2022. We realize this will not even be buying as much food as before, given the rising costs, but we hope it provides some level of security. We are grateful that we are able to provide these further finances due to money that had been set aside for delegations, and donations from church members. We pray for good rains and weather during the postrera, so that in January you will have a good harvest.

 We are also interested to hear from you on the ideas you have to help the community remain sustainable even during challenging weather, which as you say is likely to increase. We know that any change can feel risky, and unknown. You may feel that you need more information, more expertise, or more resources to try out new things. Yet we imagine there are good ideas within the community -- maybe some of you are trying new things, or considering different ways to farm -- and we’d love to hear about them. We want to accompany you. And we ask your accompaniment as we work in Boston to mitigate climate change and adapt to it. As you probably know, our country is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gasses, so we have a responsibility on our shoulders.
August distribution of Food Aid
We were also sad to hear about the separation of families and the dangers faced by those who are attempting to emigrate to the U.S. We would like to talk with you more about that at a future time.

For now, however, we send our warm embraces, with gratitude to hear about your regular gatherings, and prayers for continued animo. This is summer time for us, when many people are traveling, and when Roberto takes time off to be with his family, while Rev. Joshua and Rev. Kate manage the worship services with music minister Tom Handel. We look forward to gathering more fully as a community in September.

In faith that God is with us,
COTC Nica Companions
Council Report

No council report this month since Council did not meet in August. The September meeting report will appear in the October Covenant News.
September Birthdays

2        Joseph Jewett
5        Dorothy Frank
13      Evelyn Loving Azuma
19      Diane Lauber-Dougherty, Joan Tighe
22      Rachel Kirby
23      Barbara Darling
25      Kenny Bitner

If your September birthday does not appear above, please notify the church office so we can include you next year!
September 2021 Calendar

Click here for the
most up-to-date church calendar.
About This Issue
September 2021 Covenant News

Editor and Graphics: Evelyn Kimber 
 
Deadline for the October 2021 Covenant News is Friday, September 24. Please email your submissions to Evelyn Kimber at ebkimber@gmail.com.
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