With today marking our first Sunday since March 8, 2020 in which we are here at the 9 am without social distancing or masks required, I’m here on behalf of the vestry to publicly express our gratitude and appreciation for how you, the staff, have led and shepherded us individually and collectively during the last 15 months.
We remember how immediately after Covid draped itself over us, David sparked an explosion of creativity from Restoration’s clergy and staff. It began Monday, March 16, 2020 with daily morning and evening prayer every Monday to Friday, even holidays, that would continue for 459 days and as one member said: mercifully ordering our monotonous days and opening a window out of our house. We all know our creed, collects of the day and the week, Psalms, and much of the rest of the Bible in ways we otherwise never would have learned, and we had the gift of learning all this alongside others from the church.
Collectively, we are grateful for the time and effort you put into fun and silly announcement videos, fall retreat s’more kits, stories of hope & grace, yard eucharists, outdoor gatherings, talks on park benches or hikes, porch weddings, virtual funerals, and spending enough hours on Zoom to last 5 lifetimes.
Louise & Abigail: thank you for liturgical toolkits, Tuesday storytimes, Pray and Ponder podcasts, virtual KSGs, in person KSGs under the tent, and right now the summer nursery pilot. And of course we hope we haven’t bid farewell forever to Cowboy Steve and Ms. Louise’s neighborhood.
Ryan, Lexi, and Nathan: thank you for building connections and relationships with and among our middle and high schoolers over Zoom and in the parking lot. We know this became something many of our youth enjoyed.
Ryan, thank you also for working so well with Isaiah on the other half of your job: Sunday YouTube producer extraordinaire.
Lexi, we thank you for leading us in singing so many weeks over the past year.
Nathan, thank you also for equipping our small group leaders to create miniature communities where Resto members could still be seen, known, and connected to one another.
Scott: Thank you for hosting special events like “Thinking wisely about the election”, investing your time into our young adults, and letting us use your wedding tent for about 9 months for baptisms, confirmation classes, small groups, and outdoor Eucharists, including many rainy ones on Christmas Eve 2020.
Beth: thank you for making logistics of the Glebe Elementary Food Pantry and the grocery gift cards possible. Thank you for inviting Restoration’s women to stay connected through Tuesday evening devotions, and gift bags for the February retreat that inspired the men to copy you. Thanks for monitoring Sign Up Geniuses and fixing all the times people signed up for more spots than they should have. We know both you and Kathy worked countless hours in coordinating a willing, if not always capable, crew of volunteers.
Endel, we know playing and singing to a camera in an empty sanctuary for several months wasn’t what you had in mind when you took on the role of Interim Director of Worship Arts, but we thank you for demonstrating how to trust in God’s perfect timing. Thank you for leading our corporate 168 hours of prayer before the 2020 election and another 24 hours before Lent.
Chris, thank you for stepping out in faith, for somehow figuring out a way to bring your whole family for an in person interview in the middle of COVID, and making it a joy every week to worship our faithful God with familiar and new songs.
Kat, thank you for being the rock solid dependable, advisor, friend, confidante, partner, supervisor, and connector for every single staff member – and most of the vestry and congregation. Your willingness to use your gifts to bless and equip others makes our staff team and our church stronger.
And David: Through the last 15 months that have included global pandemic, increased awareness of racial injustice, a mildly contentious election, and seemingless endless debates over masks…we have watched with delight and gratitude as you led Restoration’s physical and digital transformation, enabling members isolated in our homes, around the country, and around the world to connect to one another and most importantly to God. At a time when it felt like things were collapsing around our ears, you didn’t waiver or weaken. You went deeper and asked us to be generous in providing rent assistance. You invited us to look at the church’s history and lament the structures of injustice it has upheld. You called us to put our trust not in a president or political party, but in the One whose kingdom is eternal. And you kept communicating, through weekly videos, emails, sermons, and did we mention Zoom – as you lead the staff and vestry in seeking wisdom and discernment in balancing the very real need for connection with the uncertainty of the virus. You listened. You sought feedback. You pivoted. You sought excellence. You poured out yourself again and again. And I hope in this next month, you will rest and find refreshment for your weary soul.
If you joined us for Morning and Evening Prayer over the last 450 days, you might have noticed that very often after God delivered His people He asked them to set up a memorial or a monument. Because He knows we need those physical, tangible reminders of his faithfulness. It is in that spirit we want to present this memorial to each member of the staff, last year’s wardens, and Adam Guzzo who led our Facilities team through all the recommendations for the different phases of reopening. Each of these was salvaged from the signs that hung from these pews marked off for social distancing and were taken down this week. Under each name is the following text:
Thank you for your creative and faithful service to Restoration Anglican parish during the Covid-19 Pandemic. When they said, “Let’s go to the house of God,” my heart leaped for joy. – Psalm 122:1
For all this and so much more, we owe you all a great debt of gratitude. Because of your leadership and faithfulness many of us will look back on this period as a time of great personal and congregational growth. Well done, good and faithful servants!
–Lorene Eberhardt and Brad Jones, Wardens