Pastor Connection
May 28, 2020

A Note from Pastor Amy
My heartbeat always quickens when I see the church making headlines. So, you can imagine my heart racing a few times in the past week or so. As restrictions ease, the national conversation has shifted focus to houses of worship. Churches and other faiths are beginning to ask the question: "When and how do we gather again?"

I sent an email a few days ago giving some information about our Session's conversation regarding that question. We are listening to recommendations of health professionals and faith leaders while also considering the unique needs and abilities of our own congregation. No definite date has been set yet, but we might need to start adjusting our expectations now. Worship will look and feel different with social distancing precautions. Implementation of a plan forward can't be carried out over night. That is why Session and I are beginning to discuss a plan moving forward now, even if we aren't gathering this Sunday.

However, coming up with a plan for worship with social distancing is not what has sped up my heart rate in recent days. Rather, it is the extreme division that seems to be emerging over the question of in-person worship itself. Christians in our country don't agree on this topic (surprise, surprise), and so for some people the choice of re-entry is morphing into a statement of belief about faith or politics or the role of the church. At worst, its become a litmus test for which side you are on.

The national conversation about worship has tended to imitate our national conversation about responses to the pandemic in general. Do you wear a mask? Should meat packing plants close? Should you have a memorial day cookout? Do you send your kids to day care? I hear people saying a definitive "yes" or "no", but let's be honest. It's a lot more complicated than that.

Why is it so complicated? Simple. Because we are different. This pandemic has been extremely hard on everybody, but the difficulty isn't a one-size-fits-all kind of challenge. It has affected each of us in unique and varying ways, and so it only makes sense that our needs for healing and well-being are unique and varying as well. Maybe that's why historians are telling us that wars unite us, but pandemics and plagues divide us. I feel most disheartened when I begin to wonder if our differences will only lead to gridlock and dead ends.

Maybe that's why I find this Sunday's Pentecost story particularly timely and hopeful - Act 2:1-21. The story of Pentecost and the birth of the church is ultimately a story of the Holy Spirit's ability to transcend difference. The story begins with the disciples waiting together in a room for the promise of the Holy Spirit. With a rush of wind and fire, the disciples start speaking in different languages - not their own language, mind you - but someone else's. When the Spirit invades the space a crowd of thousands begin to gather outside. In the crowd are Jews from many different nations including Greeks, Arabs, Romans, Africans, and Asians, just to name a few. Each of the people in the crowd can understand the conversation in the upper room in their own language. On this one day, the Holy Spirit transcends multiple layers of differences to accomplish God’s many purposes.

More than a definitive answer about what is right or wrong regarding worship during a pandemic, perhaps the world needs the church to witness to the truth of Pentecost - the truth from which we were born. The church stands as a witness to how community is formed in the midst of difference. In fact, community is formed as a celebration of difference. God is constantly bonding us together in love and purpose. The Spirit energizes us to speak a different language with those who are not like us so that we can listen, learn, and understand. Then, we in turn transcend difference to sacrifice, love, grieve and rejoice with the most unlikely of characters. And when the world sees these kinds of unlikely relationships form, they can only look amazed and say with one awed breath, "That must be God!" That's what we celebrate this Sunday.

So, how will you catch that same Spirit in the days to come? May God continue to empower us to stand as witnesses in a divided world.

Pastor Amy
Pentecost Offering THIS SUNDAY!
Every year on Pentecost, Presbyterian around the country give a special offering to support the next generation. A gift to the Pentecost Offering helps to encourage, develop, and support young people, and also address the needs of at-risk children. 40% of the Pentecost offering retained by our congregation to make an impact in the lives of young people within our own community. The remaining 60% is used to support children-at-risk, youth, and young adults through ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

This year, our church will give 40% of the Pentecost offering to EMBARC. EMBARC helps support the refugee and immigrant community in Waterloo, which has been significantly affected by COVID-19. EMBARC is currently delivering food to 100 families every week, who are quarantined. They are also delivering cleaning supplies and homework assignments to kids. Additionally, they are sending daily video recordings in 9 different languages about COVID - 19 symptoms and providing information regarding governors announcements, explaining what stay at home means, explaining changes in policies that affect resources, explaining resources to access and how to access them. They have developed a helpline with 10 different interpreters. They are also utilizing volunteers who are nurses to bridge the gap to needed health care.

EMBARC is helping families. Nurturing a healthy, positive home life is the best way to help children at risk during this challenging time. We hope you give generously on Pentecost, May 31. You may give online and designate your gift. You may also send a check to the church office with "Pentecost Offering" on the memo line. We will be accepting donations through July 7.
Honoring our Graduating Senior:
Mitchell Sage!
To celebrate the graduation of Mitchell Sage, you are invited to participate in a card shower. Please send a card to Mitchell at 107 Alta Vista Ave., Waterloo, IA 50703. We will put all the cards together and deliver them to Mitchell. All cards are due by June 5.

ALSO, join in a car caravan to the Sage Farm, 4051 Burton Avenue, Waterloo on Saturday, June 6, at 2 p.m. We will meet in the Church parking lot at 1:45 and caravan from there to the Sage Farm. We will drive through the farm and honk. We will not stop and/or get out of our vehicles. Please make signs for your cars congratulating Mitch. If you wish to participate in the caravan, please call or text Jean Seeland at 319-493-2015. A rain date for the caravan will be Sunday, June 7 at 2p.m.

We hope to have a reception sometime in the future, but we will recognize Mitchell this way for now. Help us congratulate Mitch!
NEW Resources for Devotional and Spiritual Practices
Walking Meditation Walking meditation unites our mind, body, and breath. Breathing in, we take two or three steps; breathing out we take three, four, or five steps –the numbers depending our breathing rates and gate. Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh notes that o ur breathing has the function of helping our body and mind to calm down.  As we walk, we can say (aloud or in our minds),
     Breathing in, (2-3 steps) “I calm my body”
    Breathing out (3-5 stepe) “I bring peace into my body.
 Hahn writes, “When we walk mindfully, we see the beauty and the wonder of the earth around us, and we wake up. We see that we are living a very wonderful moment. If our mind is caught and preoccupied with our worries and suffering, we miss these things. We can value each step we take, and each step brings us happiness. When we look again at the earth and the sky, we see that the earth is a wonderful reality.” [ Scripture verses also work well for walking meditation.
    “I have called you by name/ you are mine.” (Isa 43:1)
    “The Lord is my Shepherd/I shall not want.” ( Ps 23)
     Or choose your own

Daily Devotional The Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. offers a daily devotional including a scripture text, meditation, and prayer at i
The OnBeing Project Led by Krista Tippett, this site offers podcasts, interviews, writing and poetry on moral and spiritual issues and concerns.
Zoom Coffee Hour
We will gather over Zoom every Tuesday in the coming weeks. There will be plenty of time for fellowship and Pastor Amy will also bring a short devotional thought. You will need a computer with a camera and microphone. Most newer computers have these features already built in. Give it a try! This is open to ALL church members.

Our next coffee hour will be Tuesday, June 2, at 9:00 a.m. Click this link to join.
Online Giving Now Available
Thank you to all those who are continuing to faithfully give their pledges and offerings to the church. In an attempt to make giving easier during this time, we have initiated online giving to our church through the Presbyterian Foundation. Click on the button below to set up on account for continual giving. You may also give a one time gift. You may also continue to mail checks to the church. Please call Kelley if you have questions.

We are still engaging in meaningful ministry and your offerings make that ministry possible. Thank you for your generosity and please continue to give as you can.
In Our Thoughts and Prayers
New to the prayer list and updates:

Connie Leeper's daughter-in-law's nephew, Kason, was in a very bad card accident. Kason is a high school student and is in critical condition.

Rev. Gary Catterson had heart surgery on Tuesday. The surgery was successful and he hopes to return home this weekend.
For specific individuals:
Steve Millier, Iowa City; Gerald Buls, home; Bob Cutsforth, who has been diagnosed with cancer; The Platts' friends in Venezuela who are struggling with food and other resources; Donna Beaver, who is recovering from surgery for carpal tunnel; Karen Dew's cousins, Sherry and Holly, who have been affected by COVID-19, Joe Fernau (Marie's son), who started treatments for lymphoma; Sarah (granddaughter of Evelyn and Carl Boice) who is an RN at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester MN, and her husband, Dylan, who is an essential non-medical worker at Mayo; Megan and Emma Schellhorn as they work at Fareway; Jan and Dean Bellinger's daughters and granddaughters who are serving in hospitals and nursing care facilities; for Alexa (granddaughter of Janis Shea) who works in an essential business credit union and is subjected to the virus; Courtney Pilcher who works in health care services; Don Broadston, home; Pat Stanhope, Friendship Village; Shirley Sorensen, Friendship Village; Neva Kerr, NewAldaya (Hospice); Crystal Lorenze, recovering from back surgery; Paul Holtz, Hospice Care; Mary Davis, Ravenwood

Broader prayer concerns from the congregation:
leaders in all areas who are making decisions for people's well-being
all those living and working in nursing homes, assisted living, and retirement communities
workers at Tyson's
that all will stay well
all doctors, nurses, and health care providers along with their families
all those who are essential workers
teachers and students trying to adapt learning
those who are strictly quarantined for a variety of reasons

Add to the Prayer List
Click  HERE  to submit a prayer request online. Our pastors will be praying for you and sharing concerns with the congregation as requested.
Happy Birthday!

28 Debbie McQuilkin
29 Helena Mananga


3 Drew Newhoff
4 Nancy Valentine
5 Jackson Bass, Marilyn Lottich

First Presbyterian Church | Waterloo, IA | 319-233-6145 |