From the Rector's Desk
The Rev. Ledlie I. Laughlin
Rector, St. Columba's Episcopal Church, Washington, DC
May 7, 2020

Dear Ones,
I invite you to join me, the parish wardens, treasurer, and other leaders for a “Rector’s Forum” webinar at noon on Sunday, May 17. We are eager to let you know about recent decisions and plans underway for our future. Details about how you can participate will be forthcoming.

Clearly, we are in a season of great change. We are not going “back to normal.” We are being called to receive and embrace a new future. Even as we experience loss, we have and we will discover new, life-giving expressions of ministry. 

I believe that our mission, values, and vision to Live God’s Love are clear, compelling, and life-sustaining for St. Columba’s future. I also believe we need to dramatically rethink some of our strategies. Even when our legislators and bishop lift restrictions on gatherings, I do not foresee crowds flocking back to a lively, bustling church anytime soon.  

When we closed the buildings, we adapted quickly and effectively. With your extraordinary participation, abiding care, and generous support we are feeling resilient and ready. Our focus now is to develop new strategies for “blended church,” i.e., to offer both physical in-person and digital online expressions of our worship and ministry. Even as we anticipate reopening the building and begin gathering again physically, we will be developing new ways to continue gathering online. More than one parishioner has said, “I miss worshiping together in church, but it’s kind of nice to participate in my PJ’s on the couch at a convenient time of day, and I like #ColumbaDailyBread in my inbox.” Others have said, “it was very difficult for me to get to St. Columba’s; now I feel more connected.”

We are in the midst of assessing opportunities and challenges for each ministry. We are asking ourselves a great many questions, and we’re praying for creativity, wisdom, patience and courage. This feels both daunting and exciting. With the arrival of Cami Caudill, our Missioner for Community Engagement, we will develop St. C’s Corona Response; i.e., partnerships or initiatives TBD in support of the most vulnerable.
We are planning for incremental reopening in phases, over many months, beginning with small groups, as permitted by and per the protocols established by the bishop and mayor. Please click here to find guidelines shared by Bishop Mariann. Please join us for the Rector’s Forum at 12 pm on May 17 where they will be discussed.   

This is certainly not the situation any of us would have chosen, yet we journey forward with abiding hope as the body of Christ, knowing that we are God’s beloved and believing that the Holy Spirit will guide us through.

You are in my prayers.

Peace!
The Rev. Ledlie I. Laughlin, Rector
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
~ The Book of Common Prayer