Category: Thursday Thoughts

Thursday Thoughts on September 17, 2020

Thursday Thoughts on September 17, 2020

CLICK HERE TO READ THURSDAY THOUGHTS for September 17, 2020

 

September 17, 2020

***Please note that the 9:30 Educational Classes BEGIN THIS WEEK! See below for links and information.
The 10:30 service can be viewed online at:https://boxcast.tv/channel/bzioh0xyyacgq5fmjnoi

11:30 a.m. Virtual Fellowship: https://zoom.us/j/153605864?pwd=M2VSRjZsRDdFd1Q4bms0RExzam5SUT09&status=success PW: 007681

Dear Congregation:

In addition to thinking a lot about safety protocols lately – best masks to wear and have on hand at the church, how to secure hand sanitizing stations that have been on back order since March, how to remind people – nicely – that we need to maintain physical distance from each other — I have also been doing a lot of thinking, reflecting, and praying about leadership in these days. It’s one of the reasons why I have chosen to focus on the book of Exodus on Sundays in September and into October. What can I, we, learn from Moses’ leadership and the challenges he faced. I’ve been exploring that alongside the leadership of Jesus. Then there’s what we have been learning and discovering in our Thursday evening Bible Study on the Book of Acts and leadership and life in the early church.

What do these stories say about leadership for these days with the challenges of a pandemic and a contentious political landscape on top of the usual congregational life? It’s pretty clear from the stories of Moses and the journey of the people of Israel as well as Jesus and the disciples, that leadership requires a team. Moses could relay messages from God over and over again, but nothing was going to change or happen unless some in the community took action. Jesus could take five loaves of bread and bless them and multiple them to feed five thousand people but it required the disciples to distribute the bread. Peter and Paul were great motivational speakers, painting a picture of new life in Jesus, but the Jesus movement spread because others took on leadership and tasks.

All of this leads me to reflect on how do we notice, name, and nurture leaders at ERUCC. In some areas of our congregation’s life we are stuck due to lack of persons willing to serve as committee chairs and team members in areas such as education and worship. We also need to identify new members for finance and persons willing to take on leadership as treasurer and finance chair in the 2021. These needs and opportunities have been with us long before the pandemic, but the pandemic has added burdens to the smaller number of people already serving in leadership. I know I have shared this concern before. I know also people have listened to this request from me and others. I am not sure that the critical nature of these needs has been heard.

The time to step up is now. Understanding that, like Moses, we may each feel “who am I to lead,” I ask you to look inward and discern whether you are feeling a call to serve in some committee member or leadership capacity. Additionally, is there someone you can name that would bring new energy to these areas of the church’s life?

I welcome your thoughts and ideas. You can also talk with Peter Brehm, elder and President of the Consistory ( pbrehm@comcast.net) or Marc Kline, chair of the Spiritual Council (mkline354@gmail.com).

Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor
Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ
15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701
301-662-2762
e-mail: bkdaniel@erucc.org

 

Food for Thought
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” (Desmond Tutu)

 

 

 

Thursday Thoughts – September 10, 2020

Thursday Thoughts – September 10, 2020

CLICK HERE to read your Thursday, September 10, 2020 Thursday Thoughts.

 

Dear Congregation:

I am grateful for an energetic group of ERUCC members and friends who have committed themselves to getting people to the polls this November.  The UCC encourages its members and congregations to engage in voter registration drives, candidate forums, providing information on how to vote and in this year, the process for obtaining mail-in ballots.

The Rev. Traci Blackmon,  Associate General Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for The United Church of Christ, writes:  “For people of faith, the public arena we know as ‘politics’ represents much more than the partisan politicking we see on the news.  It is a means by which we live out the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Scripture reminds us over and over that building right relationship in human community and with God’s creation is an act inseparable from our relationship with God.  So, it is important for faith communities to engage in nonpartisan voter education and empowerment programs that help us reflect on our collective life and work to uplift the common good through the political process.”

No matter your opinion or political affiliation , your voice – your vote – matters and you deserve to be heard.

Thursday Thoughts: September 3, 2020

Thursday Thoughts: September 3, 2020

CLICK HERE to see your Thursday Thoughts for September 3, 2020

Dear Congregation:

I know I don’t need to remind us all that we are in a different world when it comes to our life as a church and everything else. As we anticipate being in this time of pandemic for months to come, we are evaluating what is most helpful for keeping in holding our community connected with one another.    We continue to assess how we can continue our ministry and mission while keeping one another safe.

In-person worship on Sundays and at 6 pm on Wednesdays, outside on the patio, and robust live-streaming provides a variety of choices for worship.  We have a number of adult educational programs and mission outreach activities being planned.  Sunday School for children and youth will resume on September 13th via Zoom calls.  The youth group and God’s Kids’ Club are meeting regularly.   I am excited about the formation of a new youth group composed of 5th – 7th graders.

One of the areas that we are continuing to evaluate is communications with the congregation.  Thursday Thoughts and the monthly newsletter continue.  We’ve added the delivery or mailing of worship packets every month and the feedback we have received is positive to continue preparing and delivering those packets.  If you wish to opt out, please let Amy know.

Early in the pandemic, we added a Monday email blast to provide updated information people to pray for as well as building and activity news.    As the bulletins are printed  so many weeks in advance, the Monday email became a way to fill in the information gap between the bulletins and the newsletter.

I kindly ask that you please let me know or Amy know what you have found helpful in terms of communication and if there are other things you would like us to communicate with you.

I would like to add that one of the challenges for me, as your pastor, is that it is a challenge to go from interacting regularly with 150 + of you each Sunday to less than 30.  I have missed those face-to-face interactions.  Phone calls and email contacts are not the same but as we say over and over these days, it is better than not having contact at all these days.

I have been meeting with those of who feel comfortable sitting outside on your porch, backyard, or in Baker Park.  I’ve enjoyed some physically distanced walking with a few of you.  Let me know if you want to meet somewhere.

Feel free to call the office or send me an email if you want to have a conversation.
Further Note

The Central Atlantic Conference of the UCC will be meeting the end of September.  Here is a link to the agenda and program for the week — September 21-26.

http://www.cacucc.org/56th-annual-meeting  

I encourage you to consider attending the meeting as it will give you a broader look at the UCC and how our conference works in our region.

The church has budgeted for our members to attend these meetings and events of the UCC.  If you are interested in attending, please let me know and I’ll register you.

 

JULY 16 Thursday Thoughts

JULY 16 Thursday Thoughts

CLICK HERE TO READY THURSDAY, JULY 16 THURSDAY THOUGHTS

 

July 16, 2020

***Please note that the 9:30 Educational Classes are suspended.
The 10:30 service can be viewed online at:https://boxcast.tv/channel/bzioh0xyyacgq5fmjnoi

If you are interested in attending in person go online to EventBrite to reserve your place: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/109158933308

11:30 a.m. Virtual Fellowship: https://zoom.us/j/153605864?pwd=M2VSRjZsRDdFd1Q4bms0RExzam5SUT09&status=success PW: 007681

Dear Congregation:

Last week, I realized that this was likely going to be the first year since 1999 that I would not be traveling to Europe to visit with church partners and friends.

Next week our youth and adults, along with our German partners, were scheduled to travel to the UCC National Youth Event at Purdue University. Due to COVID-19, this national event has been postponed to the summer of 2022.

Yesterday, I realized that this is the first year since I was 21 years old that I will not be attending a national gathering of the United Church of Christ. For over 40 years, youth events, General Synod, Faith Works, and other gatherings have been foundational in my formation as a Christian and as a clergy person. While I know in the scheme of things missing these gatherings for the health and safety of participants is critical, like other events that are being canceled or postponed there is grief. My faith and leadership was nurtured and formed through those national gatherings. The conversations, worship, Bible studies, and speakers have nurtured and challenged me personally and professionally.

The young people and adults of ERUCC have attended a national gathering of the UCC for the past 12 years. As General Synod in July of 2021 will be virtual, I am coming to terms with the fact that it will be two years before our youth have an in-person experience of the diversity of the UCC and be challenged, formed, and nurtured by these experiences of the national setting of the UCC.

I’m pondering how we will fill that void. The national setting of the UCC is working hard to provide virtual experiences for the wider church but we know that it is not the same. Just like the difference between live streaming the worship service from your home and gathering in the sanctuary in-person, it’s just different.

There are a lot of experiences these days that we can say are not the same or just different. Sunday worship in our Sanctuary, sitting with masks on and not singing. Visiting with family members and friends with masks on and sitting six feet apart. Zoom happy hours. Facebook live parties. It’s not the same and so we grieve what we once had.

Once I have named the loss and understand that it is okay to grieve and give myself the time to grieve, space opens in my heart and mind for a new way of nurturing my life and that of our young people. While I know that youth groups gel when they have experiences away from home, we will need to discover new ways of coming together here at home. While we may not hear national and international leaders speaking live in a huge convention center and experience the energy that comes with a crowd, we can listen to speakers and have a thoughtful conversation about what we have heard. We can take the time to look around us and see where we may engage our time and energy locally, participating in events and marches as safely as we can.

Perhaps, in these months ahead, these new ways of learning, meeting, and growing will prove to be more than measures to fill in a gap. I anticipate that some of these new ways may become just as meaningful and fulfilling as attending a national youth event or General Synod. It will just be “different.”

Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor
Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ
15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701
301-662-2762
e-mail: bkdaniel@erucc.org

July 2 Thursday Thoughts

July 2 Thursday Thoughts

CLICK HERE to read the July 2, Thursday  Thoughts.

July 2, 2020

Dear Congregation:

It’s been twelve weeks since we last gathered as a congregation in our sanctuary.  This Sunday, some of us will share worship in the sanctuary and some of us will share worship via the livestream.  Wherever and however you choose to worship, your decision is honored as I hope you will honor the decisions of others.

As you know, reopening the buildings has not been an easy decision.  Besides researching all the science and data concerning the spread of the virus, we have been navigating the emotional toll this has taken on so many in our congregation.  For some of us, gathering at the church for worship has been not only a regular practice but critical for overcoming isolation.  Being with the church family brings meaning and purpose in ways that other group gatherings do not.  I have heard the pain and the heartbreak as week after week went by and we could not gather even as we all admitted we needed more time to consider how to gather as safely as possible.

The reopening team seriously reviewed the scientific data from the CDC and recommendations from the Frederick County Health Department.  These are reflected in how we will be worshipping.  When some of us do gather in the sanctuary this Sunday, we know that this pandemic is far from over.  We are not returning to life as usual or as we knew it prior to the beginning of March.  We will be wearing masks and sitting far apart from each other.  We will not be able to hug or shake hands.  We will not be singing as a congregation nor will we have the senior choir.   We will be surrounded by the smell of cleaning fluids and hand sanitizer.

It will be different.  We will feel the difference not only because of the masks but also, we will feel the physical absence of some of our friends.  And to  reinforce a key element of our path forward, we respect the decisions of one another who choose to come to worship in the building and those who choose to participate at home. Each person must make their own assessment as to how and when they choose to worship.

We will need to continue to be vigilant in keeping connected with one another with all the ways we have been doing that over these past twelve weeks, focusing on what we have learned as a congregation, including:

  • How people have become engaged with worship in ways they never had before.
  • How we came to appreciate the depth of care within our church family.
  • How we needed to invest in new equipment to upgrade the online experience.
  • How we continued to be the church even as we had to figure out new ways to do that.

I am sure there is other knowledge we have gained, and I welcome hearing from you about your insights.

I thank those who  served on the Worship Team throughout these twelve weeks, the AV tech crew, and the church staff.  We know that until there is a vaccine, this virus will have an impact on us, for many months ahead. Patience, flexibility, and faith must be our guides, always erring on the side of safety.

 

 

 

Worship Notes  

Jesus offers a relationship that leads to fullness of life, yet Matthew 11:16–19, 25–30 reports that many resist Jesus’ hospitality. Jesus likens them to two groups of children at play who can’t agree on a game and find fault with all that is offered. Today we will reopen the doors of the church for Sunday morning worship.  As a small group meets in the sanctuary, we know that we will continue to be gathered in many homes across Frederick and the United States as well as Germany. For your worship center, you have a little sparkly thing to add as a reminder of the joy we share as a community in Christ.

Food for Thought:   

           

 

Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor

Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ

15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701

301-662-2762

E-mail: bkdaniel@erucc.org

 

Sunday, June 28 Bulletin

Sunday, June 28 Bulletin

Join us for worship on Sunday, June 28 at 10:30 a.m. at https://boxcast.tv/view/sunday-1030-service-654874 

CLICK HERE for the Bulletin

June 28

Genesis 22:1–14, one of the most dramatic stories in the Bible, when read carefully, seems to have the message of trust in a God of goodness. Many find this story harsh: Abraham hears a command to sacrifice his own son Isaac, Abraham prepares to do so and is stopped in the last second.  Matthew 10:40–42, Jesus’ words provide a simple but difficult charge to those who wish to be disciples: to recognize Jesus and other prophetic voices in the most marginalized people in society, and to choose generosity.

 

The Rev. Carolyn Roberts will be preaching

June 25 Thursday THoughts

June 25 Thursday THoughts

CLICK HERE to read the June 25th Thursday Thoughts

This week we welcome guest writer, Kim Sexton.

This week’s scripture finds Jesus continuing to walk with and teach the disciples.  He is reminding them that when people welcome them, they are, in turn, welcoming him.  At ERUCC we know how to provide an extravagant welcome from greeters at the welcome table, then fellowship and finally a follow up letter or call.  In March,  that all got turned upside down with stay at home orders, no school or activities,  and no in person worship.  What we thought might be like a few snow days soon became clear it would be a lot longer. If you think it was hard for an adult to figure out,  imagine being a child.  Suddenly all sense of a routine are gone.  What would welcome look like now?

In the coming weeks we would learn welcome would look like streamed worship services, zoom meetings, packets with worship materials including children’s bulletins, actual snail mail and pen pals as well as God’s Kids Club supply kits.

For me, extravagant welcome means knowing my church family is there for me in uncertain times.  I knew if I needed this,  the kids would need it even more.  I set up a schedule of meeting with God’s Kids Club three times a week at  4 p.m.  At first  I thought , this is great! I can really teach something with some content.  Early on It became pretty clear that what the kids needed was community and to be kids.  So we changed up content and now on Mondays we play games: guess who I am, scavenger hunts and of course bingo or we sing.  On Wednesdays we do crafts or science.  On Fridays we do the upcoming Sunday Sunday school lesson.  They wanted to cook,  so we have decorated cupcakes and made pizza.  I also looked to them for suggestions of topics so we have learned about arachnids, Disney, Pokemon, ERUCC history and mythical creatures to name a few. We have even had guest readers and speakers.

We have 9 families who attend regularly with children ranging in age from 2 years to 6th grade. We extended the welcome to friends of ERUCC and have had three families take us up on the welcome. The kids have welcomed our friends just as they would in person.  I wish you could have heard the excitement in both two year old’s voices when they saw each other over Zoom or how important it’s been for us to celebrate birthdays, mile stones (graduating from preschool or 5th grade, lost teeth or learning to ride a bike without training wheels) and even the last day of school.  It’s been equally important to allow them to talk about their fears and what they are grieving.  We end each session just as we end the thought for the day, with a topic for which they are thankful for or worried about and then go into the Lord’s Prayer.

Zoom God’s Kids Club has allowed us to deepen our faith and connect in a new way.

 

June 18 Thursday Thoughts

June 18 Thursday Thoughts

CLICK HERE FOR JUNE 18 THursday Thoughts

This week we welcome guest writer, Matt Davis.

Social media is a mixed blessing at best as is Facebook’s so-called “snooze button.” For those that don’t know, this feature allows you to remain friends with someone, but not see anything they post for the next 30 days. I admit it. I’ve used it and those of you that haven’t are probably doing a Google search for it right now.

Between the COVID-19 pandemic and most recently, the outbreak of protests and demonstrations against racism and police brutality, things are pretty intense right now. I was recently surprised to see my house and a number of others in my quiet, rural neighborhood targeted with hate literature from the KKK. Like any decent human being, I was outraged, ripped it up and lined my cat litter box with it.

As I continued to think about it in the context of our current events, how certain people in our society are treated fundamentally different than others, I came to a realization. Even here, I have the option to just rip it up and ignore it and go on with my life. After all, they want to “recruit” me and I will gladly tell them to get lost. If I were a member of one of the many groups that are the target of their ire, however, I would have feared what would be coming next. If I were a person of color, however, I could not have so easily ignored it and moved on.

I had a similar realization after Frederick’s March for Justice. It was a wonderful, inspiring, and peaceful march and we were moved by the grief of our fellow citizens for the lives that were lost. We were on our way home after the speakers concluded when we received a text message from the city indicating that some protesters had shut down I-70 in both directions. I said to myself, “Why did they have to ruin a perfectly good march by going out to stop traffic on the highway?” I thought about that in the hours to come and it finally came to me. When they shut down the flow of traffic, the unlucky souls in the traffic jam no longer had the luxury of ignoring the pain those protesters were feeling. They were forced to stop their vehicles to not hit them and saw their pain and anger over injustice firsthand and I think it frightened and angered them. They were forced out of their routines and no longer had the option to look away and ignore these things that have been going on for a long time. Although I still do not think anyone should walk out in traffic on a highway at twilight on a rainy night, for the first time I got why they did it. To do that speaks to a level of desperation that white America does not yet feel. And I wondered why I didn’t see that before.

So my thought for this Thursday is this: our faith calls on us to be faithful witnesses. That requires us to be willing to look. Avoid hitting that snooze button in an effort to avoid discomfort. If you’re confused about why people are upset but want to be part of the solution, a good first step is to not allow yourself the luxury of looking away.

Isaiah 1:15-17 – When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

June 11 Thursday Thoughts

June 11 Thursday Thoughts

CLICK HERE to read the June 11 Thursday Thoughts

 

Dear Congregation:

Since the beginning of March, life at and with ERUCC and our community has been a constant barrage of new experiences.  Whether it’s been how to worship or how to conduct the church’s business or how to have fellowship and educational programs, every day brings new challenges in meeting the needs of the congregation and the community.

In this new environment, I have participated in at least 3 webinars or calls every week about COVID, technology, cleaning, mental health in these days, and meeting spiritual needs when we cannot gather or engage in our usual rituals.  I must admit that these resources have been very helpful but so much new information all at the same time is taxing on my brain.

Then we had the murder of George Floyd and the unleashing of anger, frustration, and energy to say, “Enough is enough.”  The past few weeks have engaged our congregation in even deeper work on anti-racism.   This, too, is taxing on the heart as we open ourselves to identifying and dismantling our behaviors as individuals and as a community that contribute to institutional racism.

All this is to say that I recognize the challenges of dealing with COVID will be with us for months.  Our work in dismantling institutional racism will be before us for years.  These challenges are not a sprint, but a long-distance run, and we all need to pace ourselves for this meaningful and hard work.

I am grateful that Ken and I will be able to take some time off to rest, renew, and refresh. I will be leaving for vacation tomorrow, June 12th and returning on July 1st.  Please contact Amy Aguilar at the church office with any questions or concerns. (aaguilar@erucc.org)

This Sunday, June 14th, if the technology works, you will hear a sermon that I recorded.  Rev. Michelle Beadle will be preaching on June 21st and Rev. Carolyn Roberts on June 28th.

I look forward to seeing you upon my return – in person in worship on July 5th or virtually in worship and on zoom calls.  Take care and peace.

Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor
Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ
15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701
301-662-2762
e-mail: bkdaniel@erucc.org