Monday, Sept. 14, 2020
Deacons: Reaching out and connecting

As the pandemic descended upon us last March, the church leadership convened in many different ways to map out our various responses to what was happening. Perhaps the most obvious of those was launching our digital worship services so that we could continue to gather together as a Christian community in worship even if we could no longer do so physically in our facilities for a while.
Other initiatives sprang up, such as our Meal Ministry to provide home-cooked meals to members and friends for whom shopping had become too dangerous and/or cooking every night was a burden, or our hosting of Mask Force 2020, a local group of sewers who took it upon themselves to sew masks for first responders and essential workers when Personal Protective Equipment was in such desperately short supply (after a summer hiatus, this initiative is back up and running on Wednesdays from 1-3 p.m. - sewers are encouraged to share their skills!)
But one of the most significant ministries within our own congregation was how the Board of Deacons stepped up their work of compassion and care in the congregation. The Deacons took the first draft of our new membership directory (still in process) and divided it out among themselves, taking care to see that each household in the directory was “claimed” by a Deacon.

The Deacons then began calling their households to check in on people. Partially, this was about emotional and spiritual support; the Deacons realized early on that isolation was going to be a serious pastoral problem for people in this time of staying at home and practicing physical distancing.

And partially, this was about seeing if people had any particular needs that the church could help with through prayer and/or action. As the economic impact of the shutdown began to take its toll, this was of greater and greater concern.

Six months later, the Deacons are continuing this ministry of presence through phone calls, emails, and so on, working to ensure that every member of the church feels valued and loved and connected.
Recently, though, we have discovered that there have been a few inadvertent holes in this important ministry by the Deacons.

Some households thought that the church database had their contact information when it did not; a few households were even accidentally left out of the draft of the directory due to a printing error.
So: if you haven’t received any phone calls from the Deacons, they want to know about it! Please email info@fpc-bethlehem.org with your current contact information and a note saying that you haven’t heard from your Deacon yet.

Alternatively, you can call the Church Office and leave a voicemail message to that effect, too, but please speak clearly so we can make sure we get it right! In either case, once we have it, we will make sure that your information is included or updated in the database, added to the final draft of the directory when it is published, and that the Deacons receive your information so you can be included in this pastoral ministry of conversations.

And if you are not an official member of the congregation but are a friend who participates in any of our ministries, a Deacon would love to reach out to you, too, so please join in!