August 12, 2020
This past weekend, 100+ people stepped through the front doors of our sanctuary for the first time in nearly a year as part of our Sanctuary Renovation Tour Day. Over the course of the day on Saturday these members and friends of St. Simons Presbyterian had an opportunity to explore the renovation site in small groups. There were lots of wide eyes, good questions, and even a few tears of joy! 

For me, the best part of the entire day (in addition to seeing everyone’s faces!) was watching folks kneel down to write a message on the concrete slab of the sanctuary. Some wrote words of gratitude, hope, or faith, while others shared their favorite verses of scripture. These written blessings will now form the literal and figurative foundation for our new worship and mission space even after they are covered by the new flooring that will soon be installed. 

You will find several pictures from the tour day in the newsletter below. Of course, we realize not everyone was able to participate and so the building committee is working this week and next to put together a “video tour” that will allow everyone to see the exciting development happening inside that construction fence along Kings Way. Be on the lookout! 

Also, I invite all of us to continue holding in prayer all of the students, teachers, and parents in our congregation and community who are preparing to head back to school. We are all well aware that right alongside the excitement of a new school year beginning is a good deal of stress and uncertainty for all involved. To that end, we are going to be hosting a Blessing of the Backpacks event next Monday, August 17 from 3-5P under the tent on the Delegal St. by the playground. Students, teachers, and parents are invited to drop by anytime during that time block to receive a blessing and prayer here at the beginning of the school year. More details below.

Finally, as many of you may have heard or read, the Glynn County Board of Education made the decision last night to mandate face masks for all students and teachers. While this is a very important and encouraging step from a health and safety standpoint, it does present new stresses and challenges both for those in school leadership as well as those families and students who may not necessarily have the resources to purchase and maintain masks for the foreseeable future. In response to this need, we have committed $5,000 from the deacon’s fund to join an existing effort being led by Christ Church Frederica to purchase several thousand cloth masks to be distributed directly to local schools. Specifically, these monies will help to purchase 3,000 youth-sized masks. Once the masks are delivered, we will need volunteers who are willing to help iron on logos onto these reusable cloth masks. Stay tuned for more details!

Enjoy your newsletter. Enjoy your church. And in all things, let us give thanks to God who is with us in all things! See you Sunday. 

Rev. Alan Dyer
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Musical Notes

For those of us around the world that direct choirs, it’s been a very sad time even with virtual choirs being done. Choral music is something that requires working together in person and listening to one another, with the conductor’s ears as a guide for the blend of the group. That is what cannot be done through virtual choirs and is the BEST part of singing in a choir. Singers mostly have a memory of what they need to sound like, but they can’t depend on anyone to “stand” beside to get notes and rhythms and style. I didn’t realize just how sad I was until I listened to a rendition of John Ness Beck’s Upon This Rock and promptly broke into tears.  I really miss our wonderful Chancel Choir. Knowing that I’m not the only one offers a bit of consolation, but we are all sad for our choir members and accompanists.
Any kind of sense of normalcy experienced nowadays is pretty special. As people filed through the building on Saturday for the tour of the renovation, I got back my sense of excitement as a servant of the church. I stayed at the keyboard for the most part, playing favorite hymns and putting on the piano and organ demo so it played by itself (awesome keyboard). The acoustics so far are very nice and an enhancement of what we had. Things will change once pews with cushions and other furniture and people get into the space, but not much. Seeing everyone was definitely a bonus! Even with masks on, you could sense the smiles all around. Many asked if I was pleased – of course I am, but more grateful than anything else. I’m definitely excited for the time that we can all worship together in this new space. I’m already dreaming about what we can do in the future. Choral singing will return. Congregational singing will return.  In the meantime, keep singing at home and don’t let the pipes get rusty – we need you to help fill our beautifully renovated sanctuary with songs of praise and prayer. So, Saturday seemed almost normal and that was good.   

It's what you’ve been waiting for – Bluegrass Sunday! We recorded last week in the social hall and had a great time together. We are playing our old standards and familiar tunes. With Jason Bosarge on Bass, Harlan Hambright on Mandolin, me on Piano, Bud Longley on Dobro, Crystal Murphy on Fiddle, Ann Nermoe on Guitar, and Ricky Ray on Banjo, it is a lot of fun to play and sing together even at a distance. Turn up the volume and dance around this Sunday, nobody is watching you!   

On August 23, I will sing “How Can I Keep from Singing?”, a tune made popular by Pete Seeger in the 1960’s and new age singer Enya in the 1980’s. It’s been around for a long time, in fact, it was published in 1869 by Robert Lowry.   Our opening hymn is a familiar tune with different words – 54 Make a Joyful Noise to God (tune is For the Beauty of the Earth).   
How can you keep from singing? – read the words on page 821 in the Glory to God Hymnal. The refrain is this:    
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I’m clinging. 
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing? 
No matter what and even if things aren’t okay, they are still okay. Hang on and stay safe. As it says on the sign outside the church, “we got this.” 
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