“It’s not about going back to normal times. It’s about going forward. It’s about the new normal.” -                             Governor Andrew Cuomo

Eastertide Greetings to all of you-

As we continue our journey to Pentacost, it is my deepest hope that each of you took time after Easter Sunday to refresh and renew. If you’ve not had a chance to view the Holy Week services of Hudson River Presbytery, please do. The love and support that we have shown to each other is truly evident in these services. Heartfelt thanks and gratitude for all who participated, and especially for Rev. Casey Carbone who put this all together!

Speaking of Casey, as you move into the next phase of this new normal, please know that Casey is available for continuing consultation around connection and technology. Reach out to pastorcaseycarbonne@gmail.com with your questions.

The popularity of our ZOOM gatherings has been amazing. A reminder of the offerings we have over the next couple of weeks:

Each will begin at 10:00 and continue for an hour to an hour and a half. You should have received a ZOOM invite for each group that applies to your context. Please contact christine@hudrivpres.org if you did not receive an invite.

·        Monday gatherings will be open to the Hudson River Presbytery community as a whole, and will serve as an informational ZOOM. On Monday April 20 th we welcome Ellie Johns-Kelly from the Presbyterian Foundation to talk about how we might best address financial challenges with our online worship experience. Worried about congregational giving? Concerned about stewardship? Join this conversation!  Monday April 27 th will feature Carrie Mitchel from the Board of Pensions to review your congregational and member options, of which there are many, as well as answer any questions you might have regarding BoP offerings.
·        Our Wednesday ZOOMs will be reserved for pastors presently serving in pulpits. This is a time of colleagues caring for each other during a very real shared crisis.
·        On Thursday April 23 rd we will introduce our HRP Clergy Coaching scholarship plan. Your questions around “What is coaching?” “What does coaching look like?” “How can a coaching relationship help me with decisions during this time?” will be answered. Whether you’ve ever had a coach or not, come and join the conversation. Utilizing certified IFC coaches, HRP encourages all pastors to engage in a coaching experience, and now is the time to try it! For more information or to register now for coaching, visit the HRP website and the Congregational Resources tab to register.
·        Beginning on Friday April 24 th we will have Spiritual Practices with Rev. Leslie Mott as your ZOOM offering. This may include a simple “check-in”, a guided spiritual practice and meditative prayer. Please care for your own soul and join with us as we connect with God in a different way. This gathering is open to all clergy in Hudson River Presbytery.

Any of you who have experienced the Festival of Homiletics can tell you of its value! You have the unique opportunity to “attend” for free this year. How interesting will it be to hear national church leaders speak of preaching during these times? Please register soon – I don’t know if there will be a limit to registrations – https://www.festivalofhomiletics.com/

We have had several congregations get approval for the Payroll Protection Plan funding! If you’ve applied and not yet heard, you are probably in line for the next round of funding. This is all very bank-specific, so keep in touch with your bankers.

Our Stated Clerk has asked me to remind you about the protocol for electronic meetings as per the Office of the General Assembly. If you are meeting as Sessions, you may wish to review these guidelines

I am so pleased that quite a few of you have already been in touch with the Board of Pensions for some financial relief. A reminder that Carrie Mitchel will be with us on our ZOOM on Monday April 27 th to explain current programs and answer any of your questions.

To be able to resource congregations is the very essence of who we are as Hudson River Presbytery. We have been able to facilitate three PDA emergency grants and have requested two more. Additionally, we have funded 15 Congregational Connection grants thus far. The imagination and creativity of you and your congregations is unprecedented and continues to amaze me. If you’ve not yet requested funding to better connect to your members and neighbors, please do soon!

Finally, separate from financial concerns and congregational concerns, I can share that I am concerned about your health and well-being as we journey through these times. I have spoken with several of you about this – you are NOT alone. Heightened anxiety is such a normal, human reaction to what we are all experiencing. I absolutely encourage you to utilize the Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) portion of your BoP coverage. If you are serving in a pulpit, join with us on Wednesdays to share and listen to your colleagues. All other ZOOM opportunities are open to all clergy in the presbytery. Call each other. We may be physically apart, but we are very much connected. We have each other, and that can be enough.

As the next few weeks evolve, we will begin discussions around change. We all have an opportunity for very positive change during these times; in some cases, change that we have thought about or talked about for years. What have we learned? What can we build? How do we return, not to the same place we left, but to the new place that God has crafted for us? I cannot wait to talk about that with you….

In the meantime – check this out. Watch until the end….

God’s peace and continued blessings-
Deb Milcarek