I don’t generally talk about the interim process in every issue in this space. The interesting time through which we are living confounds our efforts to be clear in communicating with you all. So I want to restate something I said in my last version of these notes and go on to elaborate a bit on what lies ahead.
A reiteration: a Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) does not now exist and no candidates for any installed pastoral positions are presently being considered at Third Church. YOU, the members, elect a PNC—not the Session, not the Nominating Committee, not the Presbytery of Genesee Valley, and not ME!! Therefore, you will know when that action has occurred because YOU will take it. I invite any of you who have questions or comments about what is happening to contact me. There is nothing secret or secretive about how we accomplish this task. Thus, I will give you the straight-up facts at every step along the way.
Having restated that bit of info, I do need to say that my usual interim process will be retooled significantly because of COVID-19. The absence of regular, face-to-face gatherings limits my ability to identify and gather the Third Church folks who plan with me and carry out the activities related to the work. I didn’t know how much the project would be impacted because I’ve never done it this way before! Three months in and only a little light in sight, clarity is emerging on the adjustments I and we will need to make to get the job done. A major compounding reality is the fact that many of you may just now be finding out what your fall will look like…sort of. You have to figure out how much time you will be able to contribute to anything other than doing your day job and shepherding your school-age children in the months ahead. A lot of things are on hold right now; and, while life in these interim times is not on hold, it is progressing at a slower rate than I imagined and some of you might like. Hrumph!
Three Fall priorities for me: 1) Identify the people who will carry out the church mission study with me. Some of you have tentatively volunteered (dependent on your other fall duties) to wrestle with this process. Perhaps by the time you read this, I will have accomplished this task. 2) Develop a congregational survey that will give ALL of you an opportunity to let me and the mission study team know what is on your mind. I fully expect to create this instrument by the end of September. 3) Gather smaller and larger groups of people for dialogue about hopes, dreams, visions, and anxieties concerning Third Church’s future, either virtually or in person (or both). These get-togethers don’t usually occur early in the process anyway; but COVID-19 interruptions have obviously impacted the timetable for getting this done.
In the meantime—I continue to meet and work with staff, plan and lead worship, participate in online meetings and classes, and venture into the neighborhoods of Greater Rochester to visit with you on your porches and in your back yards. The weather has been mostly delightful, so I am not missing Florida at all! Wegmans and Aldi supply almost all of my physical needs, along with the occasional meal in which you invite me to share. My Greece apartment is working out just fine. I have no idea when my wife, Patricia, will journey this way. (I share one of my favorite candid shots of the two of us above.) The COVID-19 spread in Ohio has diminished enough to get my home state off the Guv’s bad list so I can go home for a bit in early September. Dear Lord, I have a lot of work to do there! Additionally, I’ve learned that my recent college-grad and archaeology-major son, Arden, is venturing to Arizona to see what kind of a future might unfold for him there. His sister, Lydia, already resides in Tucson and she is excited about having another family member in the area. I will be able to see him off while I am home.
I’ve spent three “Falls” in a row in Florida where the colors of the season are…green with a little brown tossed in. And “Fall” doesn’t really happen until March when all the teeny-tiny live oak leaves decide to detach. I remember the colors of Rochester being glorious. I am looking forward to feasting my eyes once again.