Pastor Connection
July 9, 2020

Pastor Amy's Thoughts Concerning Conversations About Race
We are living in a historic moment concerning racial equity in our nation. As people have watched the news and listened to calls for justice, I have had more conversations with church members about their own questions, difficulties, longings for the future, and personal calls to action. 

At the same time, I have heard people bring up wonderings about events, language, and perspectives that they struggle to understand. Our current times are an opportunity for the church to follow Jesus’ call for justice. But let’s be honest. This is hard work, because racial justice confronts white people with uncomfortable questions, feelings, and realizations about deeply embedded systems of which we are a part. This work means following curiosities that might lead to hard truths and vulnerable self-reflection. This work means learning, un-learning, and re-learning.

But just because something is difficult or uncomfortable does not mean that we shy away from the conversation. If anything, I believe that difficult conversations are where the growing edges lie for us as individual Christians and as a church. I believe that God is calling us, all of us, to walk this uncomfortable road to love our neighbors.

With that in mind, I’d like to commend to you a series of short youtube videos created by Emmanuel Acho called “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.” They are just 10 minute videos and easily accessible. They are some of the best videos I’ve seen providing safe space for people to take first steps in this difficult conversation. Emmanuel Acho speaks directly to many of the comments that I have heard our church members speak during this time. Here are the first three videos, there are more to come in the future. 

As always, I am here to listen to you and enter the conversation with you. I am by no means an expert on racial equity. However, I have been doing my own work over the last several years to understand racism and white people’s roles in dismantling systems of racism. I would welcome the conversation. While I am going to be disconnected from many of my responsibilities at the church over the next several weeks (see the next section of the Pastor Connection for further conversation), I am open to meeting with you when I return.

May Jesus continue to guide us into uncomfortable places for the sake of the gospel.


A Note From Pastor Amy About Her Upcoming Study Leave
Several of you have asked about my studies during the Covid-19 season. As you know, I have been working for several years now on a Doctorate of Ministry in Biblical Preaching from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. I have completed all of my courses and am beginning to focus on finishing my final thesis. I hope to graduate in December.

As you can imagine, completing the research necessary for my thesis has been very difficult during this time. However, I have had tons of support from family, colleagues, friends, church members, our personnel team, and Session. I’m happy to report that I have developed a plan to complete the research.

That being said, I need a large chunk of dedicated time to get this done and give my work the attention required. So, I will be taking three weeks of study leave as outlined in my terms of call beginning Monday, July 13 through August 2. I will be disconnecting from my regular responsibilities at the church so that I have the time to work every day on my research. Our staff and volunteers will be covering the necessary tasks to ensure ministry leadership continues at the church. I am particularly grateful for Pastor Pat, Kelley, Brenda, Dakota, and our Elders who will make sure things run smoothly in my absence.

I would very much appreciate your prayers during this time. Please pray for endurance so that I might use my time wisely. Please pray for wisdom and insight so that I can analyze data in fruitful ways. Please pray for my family who will feel the impact of my stress and workload. Please pray for the hundreds of details that will need to fall in place for me to pull this off.

As always, I am grateful for the many ways that you have supported me and continue to support my education now. You all will certainly be in my prayers as well.

Peace be with you,
Pastor Amy 

Update On Our Plan for In-Person Worship and Re-Entry Into the Building
Last Sunday, several people gathered for in-person worship as described in our church’s phased plan for worship and building re-entry. Things went well and we deeply appreciate everyone adhering to the social distancing guidelines we are implementing. Session recognizes the changing nature of our current situation as we watch the number of cases fluctuate around the nation. We will continue with the approved plan as long as the Blackhawk County Health Department rates our county at a moderate risk level. If we move to a high risk level, then we will suspend our plan. For now, we continue to encourage people to make the wisest decisions for their unique situations. We will continue to provide worship online. Remember that in-person worship starts this Sunday at 9:00 a.m. outside. Bring your own lawn chairs, water, fans, and Bible. We are encouraging people to wear masks.

Personal Care Item Drive for the Food Bank
Our church is participating in the Northeast Iowa Food Bank's Personal Care Item Drive! July 1 through August 12 . During this event, local churches, organizations, and businesses will be collecting personal care items, such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, and diapers. 
If you would like to participate, please bring your items to the church Monday through Thursday, between 9:00 and 2:00. There will be a collection box in the entry of the church. Kelley will be in the office to let you drop off the items.
Thank you for your generosity and participation!

Spiritual Practice for The Week - Generosity
“Generosity has such power because it is characterized by the inner quality of letting go or relinquishing. Being able to let go, to give up, to renounce, to give generously--these capacities spring from the same source within us. When we practice generosity, we open to all of these liberating qualities simultaneously. They carry us to a profound knowing of freedom, and they also are the loving expression of that same state of freedom.” — Sharon Salzberg in Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg
Reflect on generosity in your life – the times you have been humbled as a recipient, the times you have given because “you felt you should”, the times you give in free abundance. How did each state feel?
Practice: Give something you treasure away without regret.

[from, July 6, 2020]

Zoom Bible Study

As usual, we will meet this Tuesday to discuss the upcoming Sermon Text. This week is Acts 9:1-20, the conversion of Saul to Paul. Pastor Pat will be leading these discussions in Pastor Amy’s absence. Please note the different link and needed password:

Password: 3iieN2
Online Giving 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
For specific individuals:
Mary K Williams, recovering at home; Steve Miller, home; Gerald Buls, who has been diagnosed with lymph node cancer; Jo Beaver is recovering from knee surgery, prayers of safety for Lorraine Baker's nephew and Barbara Benksin's son, who are both truckers; Kason (Connie Leeper's daughter-in-law's nephew, recovering from a car accident; Rev. Gary Catterson, recovering from surgery at home; Bob Cutsforth, who is undergoing cancer treatment; The Platts' friends in Venezuela who are struggling with food and other resources; 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:
that justice and lasting peace will come to our nation
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
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.
Thank You!
Thanks to my church family for the calls, cards, gifts, and kind thoughts after my son Dan’s death.  It has been difficult, but a comfort to us to know that he is in God’s care.  Blessings to all, Connie Leeper.”
Thanks to all those who have been praying for Steve Miller. He finally came home this week after being in hospitals and therapy centers for over 60 days! Thank you to the church family for your support.

Happy Birthday!

10 Alicia Russell
15 Lynda Cose
16 Tony Pruis, Carmen Trepp
19 Dorothy Hummel

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