Rector’s Update: July 8, 2020

“…I will feed them in justice.”  Ezekiel 34: 16b

Dear Restoration,

Hope you are doing well!  I am writing to remind you of 2 special things that are happening this week.

A Zoom Discussion about Racial Injustice in the Church
It starts tonight at 7:30pm.  We will keep it to a firm hour- so log on a few minutes early to say hi and plan on being finished by 8:30.  This is a three week conversation that will build on prior weeks.   You are welcome to join any or all of them, but the content will be different each time.  You are also welcome to invite a friend.

We will break our time into thirds with lecture, moderated breakout discussions, and Q&A for all participants.  I have no idea how many people will join the call tonight and I ask for your flexibility if we need to adjust certain things.

We will be using the book, The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby.  It is organized chronologically.  Tonight we will discuss the years up to the Civil War (beginning of book to page 70).  Next week, we will look at the post Civil War period to Civil Rights legislation (pages 70-152).  The final week will examine the last 50 years of our history, (pages 152-216).   Each week we will be asking God to lead us as a church in how we should respond to these things. 

Here is the link to join the conversation which begins tonight at 7:30pm.  I look forward to talking with you!

Yard Worship on July 12
Last week, our wardens introduced Phase Alpha of our re-opening plan for corporate worship.  You can read their letter, here, which references the detailed plan that can be read, here, in its entirety.

We know that all of us are carefully watching what is happening in our community in relation to the coronavirus.  Each of us is making decisions about public gatherings that correspond with our medical and living situations.  I have been grateful for the opportunity to correspond and pray with many of you as you discern what is best for you and for your household.  Because of the diversity of our situations, we are continuing to offer our YouTube Livestream for Sunday worship as the safest and most remote way for us to worship together.  We are also beginning to offer some in-person opportunities for those who feel comfortable gathering with others.  Both options are great!

This Sunday, July 12, our YouTube Livestream will start at 10am.  I will be preaching the next installment of our Joseph story.  We are also offering 4 opportunities to gather for Yard Worship at Restoration and the homes of several Restoration members.  You can sign up, here and read all of the details for how it will work.  We warmly invite you to join us.

As always, I am grateful for the creativity of our staff and volunteers, grateful for the faithfulness of our congregation, and grateful to God as He leads us through these challenging times.

Sincerely,
David

Wardens’ Report: June 2020

The Wardens’ Report: highlights from monthly Vestry meetings, designed to provide information about our growth, finances, priorities, and progress in our strategic plan.

The Vestry met remotely on June 30. Brad Jones opened us in prayer, and we received a report from Isaiah Brooms, our Director of Youth Ministries. We are grateful for his flexibility and initiative in taking up Resto’s livestream and video presence. Please join us in praying for him as he prepares to be ordained as priest in the fall.

David reported that, in response to an appeal from the head of the Anglican Church in North America’s “Next Generation Leadership Initiative” (Rev. Dr. Esau McCauley), he used his authority to direct $2000 to support the Initiative.  

We formalized decisions made between meetings, approving a few further disbursements from the Benevolence Fund. Even with those disbursements, the Fund has used less than half of the amount the Vestry allocated. If you attend Restoration and have a financial need, please do ask. Further information is here. We also approved two motions to disburse money from our Building Fund for painting and to purchase items for reopening.
The two main questions of the evening were our budget for fiscal year 2021 (which begins September 1) and our reopening plan. On the budget, Brad Jones, our Treasurer, reported that giving and expenses remained good in May.

Thank you to those who continue to give generously, and to our staff for their wise care with expenses. Brad presented the Finance Team’s draft budget, with three options: contract 5% compared to this year; steady state; and expand 5%. We had a discussion, and will consider a final draft at our July meeting. Given how much remains uncertain for this year and next, it is unlikely that we will approve the “expand” option.
The Reopening Team provided us a superb proposal and, after extensive discussion and some tweaking, we approved it unanimously. You can find more in prior communications from us and from David, and can read the full plan.

As always, we welcome your questions and feedback. You can read an archive of past Wardens’ Reports on our website or Vestry Meeting minutes on CCB, under the ‘Files’ tab in the ‘Entire Church Group’
– Kevin Marshall and Johanna Montague, Wardens

An Update from our Wardens about Reopening

“But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house.” (Ps. 5:7)

Dear Restoration,

We are delighted to announce that the Restoration Vestry has adopted, and our staff now is beginning to implement, a plan to bring us back together to worship, this summer.  Our Re-opening Team has been toiling since May, and the Vestry on Tuesday, after a lot of discussion and a few tweaks, unanimously approved its recommendation. David has details in his Rector’s Update video (here), and you can read the full plan here, but here are the basics:
 

We will begin “Phase Alpha” on July 12 with “Yard Worship” with clergy in four outdoor locations around Northern Virginia (one being Restoration’s parking lot). You can find more details and sign up here. We are excited for this opportunity to be together, and soon! That said, if you are not comfortable or unable to join those gatherings, that’s ok. We get it. These are unprecedented times and we each are evaluating risk differently.  We will also stream our service that day on our YouTube Channel at 10am with David preaching the next installment of the Joseph story. 
 

Then, on July 26, we will have our first service in the Sanctuary, starting with 50 adults.  Further services will be August 2 and, after a pause for staff to assess and adjust, August 23 and 30, September 6 (Labor Day weekend) and 13.  Look for a sign-up for these Phase Alpha services on July 15.  We will begin welcoming kids back in the Sanctuary gradually by age starting with kids 6th grade and older on August 23 and kids of any age on August 30th.  We will not be able to offer nursery or in-person Kids’ Small Groups or in-person APEX during Phase Alpha.  We anticipate that in this phase, some families will take turns:  sending one adult to worship in the sanctuary while one adult stays home.  We look forward to having entire households in our sanctuary by September.
 

We will continue to broadcast on YouTube Live for the foreseeable future. Restoration’s plan complies with all of the Governor’s requirements and recommendations from his Phase Two ‘Safer at Home’ plan, and Bishop Guernsey has advised us on it. So, although we must hold everything loosely these days, we are confident it is responsible and sustainable for us and for our neighbors on Quincy Street.

This won’t be our old “normal,” and much work remains to carry out the plan, but we are excited to begin returning. Please join us in prayers of gratitude, and in thanks particularly for the devoted and diligent work of the Re-opening Team:  Louise Brooks, Kat Downs, Adam Guzzo (vestry representative), David Hanke (rector), Kathy Kenyon, Dietrich Kuhlmann, and Jennifer Tibus. If you have questions or comments, please let us know:  johanna.montague@gmail.com or ckmarsha@hotmail.com

Sincerely,
Johanna Montague and Kevin Marshall 
Vestry Wardens

Reopening Restoration: Phase Alpha

Preamble

Our last corporate worship service in our facility on N. Quincy Street was March 8, 2020.  Since that time we have gathered almost daily by Zoom and YouTube Live.  The Holy Spirit has been with us.  He has not been restricted in His work of redemption, conviction, and hope.  We have missed each other and our sense of community is strong.  As we anticipate beginning to reopen our facility and to gather again on N. Quincy Street, the Holy Spirit will be with us in that as well-  even if we are in masks and needing to sing quietly.  God is at work and we do not need to be afraid. 

What is our goal in reopening the facility? 

We want to gather as many people for worship, as soon as it is wise, while being consistent with lawful guidance, and demonstrating clearly to our neighbors and members that we are concerned for their welfare.  We will not be at the vanguard of those reopening.  We hope to learn from others who are going first as we follow the phased approach that our governor is prescribing. 

We will choose to restrict ourselves for the sake of demonstrating love for our neighbor.  Specifically, we will wear face-coverings and limit congregational singing during Phase Alpha.  We acknowledge the challenge of this.  We miss ‘seeing’ each other and we miss ‘singing’ together.

We intend to start with one, in-person, hour-long worship experience for approximately 50 people on July 26.  That number could increase over the course of Phase Alpha (July 26 to September 13).

Executive Summary

We intend to have congregations of 50 persons in our sanctuary on July 26, Aug 2, 23, 30, Sept 6, 13.  Congregations will be determined by registering on Sign-Up Genius.  We ask people to only sign-up for one service in Phase Alpha and to choose a service that is not within 2 weeks of returning from travel or vacation.

We will also stream our service over YouTube Live each week.

Everyone on Restoration property who is 10 years or older will wear a face-covering.

We will ask the congregation to not sing before August 30.  We will re-evaluate the safety of congregational singing after that.  The congregation will be invited to fully participate in the spoken parts of the liturgy.  

We will not have Eucharist inside the sanctuary during Phase Alpha.

The first Sunday that is open for kids 5th grade and below to attend is August 30.  

We have followed every requirement and best practice that has been provided by the Governor of Virginia (these guidelines are appended to the end of this post for your review), yet we know that it may be some time before you are comfortable or able to worship in our sanctuary.  We miss you and we want to stay connected to you!  Please use our streaming options and please stay connected to our clergy, staff and volunteers through email, phone, and text.

What is our timeline?

June:  

  • Bishop John will comment on proposal.  DONE
  • Vestry will receive written proposal by June 23 in anticipation of discussion on June 30.  DONE
  • Vestry will vote to approve reopening plan.  DONE

July:  

  • Send plan that has been approved by vestry and Bishop John to the congregation.
  • July 12:  We will provide 4 outdoor prayer services (no Eucharist) that are led by David, Beth, Nathan, Scott in 4 locations at 4 different times.  We will also broadcast a pre-recorded service over YouTube Live at 10am for those who are not able to attend in person or in case of inclement weather.  
  • July 26:  Adults-only (16 and up) congregation of 50 people or less alongside YouTube Live.

August and September

  • Aug 2:  Adults-only (16 and up) congregation of 50 people or less alongside YouTube Live.
  • Aug 23:  Adults and APEX-aged kids in congregation of 50 people.
  • Aug 30, Sept 6, 13:  Anyone can attend in congregation of 50 people.
  • The majority of our congregation will still watch on YouTube Live.  

Kathy Kenyon will create sign-up genius for attendance and serve as overall seating master.

We will ask people to sign up for just one in-person Sunday during Phase Alpha.  We will post any left-over spaces in the e-news on the Friday before that particular Sunday. 

Assumptions about Reopening

  • YouTube Livestream will be an on-going part of Restoration worship for the foreseeable future. 
  • We will offer only 1 ‘in-person’ service per Sunday with YouTube Live.  This removes the need for quick cleaning turnaround.
  • We will not do Eucharist on Sundays during Phase Alpha.  We will continue to provide yard Eucharists through the summer. 
  • Everyone who is 10 years and older inside our building will wear a face covering.  
  • All interior doors will be propped.  
  • The exterior doors by the parking lot will be propped for congregants in high risk populations or who need to use the elevator to enter the building before the service. We will ask people to use the propped Upper Narthex doors for normal entry and exit.
  • No shuttle in Phase Alpha.
  • Bathrooms will be available.  Hand washing is strongly encouraged.  Single use barriers (paper towels) will be available for entering and exiting the bathroom.  We prefer that people use bathrooms one person at a time and to use those on the second floor in order to minimize any first floor activity.
  • Out of an abundance of caution as we start to reopen, we will ask the congregation to not sing before Aug 30 and then singing will be TBD after.  The music team will sing behind their plexiglass barriers so that we can offer musical worship to the congregation in the sanctuary and through YTL.  The music team will lead fewer songs (3 or 4 as opposed to 5 or 6). 

Actions to be taken before July 26 (1st Sun)

Consultative Role:  

  • Designate 2 or 3 health professionals who will provide COVID-19 guidance as we prepare to reopen.

Signage by July 26

  • We will use big easels (similar to KSG chalk boards) by our entrance.  
  • Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, is permitted in the establishment.
  • Post signage that face coverings shall be worn, covering nose and mouth, at all times for everyone who is 10 years and older.
  • Post signage to provide public health reminders regarding social distancing, gatherings, options for high risk individuals, and staying home if sick. 
  • These warnings will be included in all emailed communication about the worship service.

Building Prep by July 26

  • Restrooms are available with single use barriers (paper towels) for opening doors.  We prefer that people use bathrooms that are on the second floor, and to do so one at a time, in order to minimize any first floor use. 
  • We will remove Bibles, BCPs, Welcome Cards, Name tags, and Service Guides from pews and store in bins in sacristy or in shed.   
  • The building will be cleaned three times a week.  We will have it cleaned on Sunday/Monday.  We will request that pews and door handles are specifically wiped down and disinfected.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be placed by entrance door and in upper narthex.  These have been ordered and should arrive before July 26.
  • The parking lot at the church will be for people with physical disabilities only.
  • All congregants (including music team and staff) will be asked to use the parking lot over I-66 and to walk to the building.  There will not be a shuttle.  Congregants aged 10 and older must be wearing their face covering before they arrive on Restoration’s property.  They do not have to wear their face covering while walking from parking lot.  
  • There are 17 pews on each side.  For at least the first few services, the first five pews will not be used for congregants.  The remaining 12 pews will be used alternatively-  6 pews on each side will have people in them.  Each pew can hold 2 multi-person households or 4 single-person households with six feet of social distance.  In this configuration, our sanctuary would max between 50 and 100 persons with 6 feet of social distance.
  • We will encourage seating to start at the front of the sanctuary and then work back so that people are not walking past each other as often in the sanctuary.  Ushers will dismiss congregants from the back and move forward.
  • Over the course of Phase Alpha, we will move YouTube Live streaming equipment so that people have unobstructed views.
  • Restoration will purchase 2-3 Floor Standing Clear Plastic Sneeze Guard Shields that are 6’x4’ and will be on the stage in front of the musicians who are singing without a face covering.  (usually Endel and 1 female vocalist)

Volunteer/Congregant Prep by July 26

  • Sunday building flow. There will be 2 entrances to the building:
    The ‘main’ entrance will be the second floor, upper narthex doors. 
    The ‘alternate’ entrance will be the first floor door off the parking lot.  The alternate entrance should only be used by adults in high risk populations and those who need the elevator.

    We will begin admitting people at 9:40am.  If people arrive earlier, we will have queue spots along our building going back to the HVAC then curving around the parking lot.  They will be at least 6 feet a part.  People should wear a face covering while in the queue. 

    If the door is open when you arrive, please do not congregate outside.  Please walk directly into the building and go directly to the sanctuary.  Ushers will guide you to either end of an open pew.  Please choose the most forward pew possible.  Please stay in your seating area the entire time you are in the building.  At the end of the service, ushers will dismiss you.  Please use the 3 upper narthex doors to exit, unless you need the elevator.  Everyone should exit through the upper narthex doors and then walk down the stairs.  You are welcome to socialize outside after the service with 6’ of social distance.  We recommend that you wear your face covering as well.

    Please arrive no later than 9:50.  If you arrive after 10am, please enter the sanctuary quietly under guidance from the ushers.  The ushers will probably ask you to wait until we have a video transition in the YouTube Livestream.
  • Ushers will be at side door entrance by 9:30am to manage the queue in the parking lot and to enforce face covering adherence as people enter.  If people arrive without a face covering, they will be invited to wear a Restoration provided disposable mask or they will be asked to leave.  No one (age 10 and older) can enter the building without a face covering for nose and mouth.

    The doors to the upper narthex and the doors by the parking lot will be propped for congregants to enter the building before the service.

    Ushers will also be in upper narthex to request hand sanitization, to enforce no congregating in narthex, and to guide people to their seats.

    Ushers will prop the Upper Narthex and parking lot doors for congregants to exit the building at the conclusion of the service. 
  • Worship Team and staff will be asked to do a self-check every week.  If they are showing any symptoms of illness, they are instructed to not attend or participate in the live worship service that week.  There will not be a temperature check on-site at Restoration.  If any volunteer or staff person is exposed to COVID, we will follow the leading of the health department and ask them to quarantine.
  • Kathy Kenyon is creating a sign-up genius for each service.  This will allow us to manage our capacity (the SUG shows how many people can come each Sunday).  Congregants will be asked to sit in designated areas at either end of an open pew, starting in the front of the sanctuary.  Ushers can assist with social distancing, should that be necessary.  Ushers will enforce compliance with face covering usage during the service.   
  • We will create a video for the congregation that demonstrates all of the changes we have made and what to expect when they return.  We would like to send this out on July 16 and July 23, at least. 

Liturgy Prep by July 26

  • Need to have screen in sanctuary for people to follow.  (No paper worship guides)
  • Service needs to be an hour (or less).
  • Microphones and stands are 1 per person at all times.  No shared mics or stands.  
  • We will not offer Sunday, inside sanctuary Eucharist during Phase Alpha.  We will continue to offer outdoor, yard Eucharists.
  • Out of an abundance of caution as we start to reopen, we will ask the congregation to not sing before Aug 30 and then singing will be TBD after.  We include 3-4 songs in our liturgy.  There will be a clear shield in front of the unmasked music team.  All of the congregants will wear a face covering, with a pew between them.  
  • We will not collect a physical offering during Phase Alpha.  In future phases, we will consider boxes in the rear of the sanctuary that could be used by those in attendance.  For now, all giving will be encouraged through our on-line portal or through the mail.
  • Kneeling during prayer is fine.  The kneelers are the only cloth in our sanctuary and so they contain a mild risk for transmission of COVID-19.  We think it is not a high risk.  
  • We will not offer After Service Prayer on-site during Phase Alpha.  We will continue to offer it via Zoom.

KIDS PREP BY July 26

  • What is the first Sunday where kids 5th grade and younger can attend?  August 30.
  • What is our messaging to families with children who normally use nursery-5th grade Kids’ Small Groups? Kids are welcome and expected to sit with their families in the sanctuary. There will be no kids’ small groups (nursery-5th grade) and there will be no extra spaces available to walk around or play. [Louise Brooks will call families and check-in with them to go over the expectations before the Sunday they will attend.]
  • What is expected of children who are in the sanctuary? Can they get up in the middle of the service? Prefer that they not, but if they must, only with a parent. 
  • Can they use the restroom? Yes, but they need to go with a parent.  
  • Must children wear a face covering? In Phase Alpha, all children who are 10 years old and over must wear a face covering.  We recommend them for children over age 2 as well, but they are not required.
  • Can parents hang out in the upper or lower narthex or anywhere else in the building with their children? No. Both the upper and lower narthex, along with kids’ small group rooms, and the Fellowship Hall will be unavailable to those who are in the building.
  • Can parents take their kids to play outside of the church during or after the service? Children must be supervised by a parent at all times. If a parent chooses to be outside with their child where others are present, they must maintain 6 feet of physical distancing.

    We would like to make the playground available.  In order to do this safely, we would like to offer Clorox wipes and a hand sanitizer station.  Both of these have been very difficult to procure.  Thus, we will keep the playground closed until we have the supplies to set up these stations.  When the playground opens, we will ask everyone using it to wear a face-covering.

Guidelines for staff in Phase Alpha

  • All Restoration staff have been given permission to work from home.  All staff interactions, including ‘weekly all staff meetings’ and ‘weekly supervisor check-ins’ can happen by Zoom or telephone.
  • On Sundays, Isaiah, Ryan, Endel, David, +1 other clergy, are expected to be in the sanctuary.  No other staff is expected onsite.  One clergy is always asked to NOT be on-site and to serve as a ‘designated survivor’, should their be an outbreak of COVID-19 among those who are serving on Sundays.  
  • If staff are working in the building and sharing a space with co-workers, they need to wear a face covering.  ‘Sharing a space’ is defined as in the same room.  ‘Same room’ includes sanctuary (even at greater than 6’) and the mezzanine office area (no doors).
  • RILA staff have been given permission to use our facility during the week.  They must wear a face covering and be socially distant at all times.   

Questions that are still in process:

When would we need to consider multiple services on a Sunday?  Based on survey results that indicate a mixed desire to return to sanctuary before a vaccine;  and because multiple services on a Sunday create an exponentially greater cleaning cost and burden;  and because we are offering YouTube Live:  we do not intend to have multiple services in Phase Alpha and probably not for the remainder of 2020.

What procedure needs to be followed for sanitization following each service?  We are working with our cleaning crew on this.

Will bathrooms be open?  Yes.  We prefer that the upper narthex bathrooms be used (one person at a time) to minimize traffic on the lower level.

When does Eucharist come back on Sundays?  Not in Phase Alpha.  We will keep working on ways to do it safely inside and will consider it for Phase Beta.

Will we collect a physical offering?  Not during Phase Alpha.  Considering boxes in rear of sanctuary for future phases.  All offering for now will be on-line or through the mail.

What will be communicated if someone tests positive for COVID-19 and attended worship in our sanctuary?  Because we are using a sign-up genius for these worship gatherings, we will inform everyone who attended (and only those who attended) worship with that person the following:  “Someone who attended the in-person worship service on DATE has tested positive for COVID-19.  We have informed the health department about who was in the sanctuary on that date.  We encourage you to follow the guidelines that are recommended by our health department.  We are following normal cleaning procedures in the sanctuary.”

Forward Virginia Guidelines for phase 2

MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS:

  • Occupancy shall be limited to no more than 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy of the room or facility in which the religious services are conducted.

    The Certificate of Occupancy for Restoration’s sanctuary = 384 total people. Restoration’s sanctuary can accommodate 192 people at 50% of sanctuary occupancy load.  But social distancing of 6 feet will probably cut that number in half, closer to 100 people.
  • Individuals attending religious services must be seated at least six feet apart at all times and must practice physical distancing at all times. Family members*, as defined in Executive Order 61, Order of Public Health Emergency Three, may be seated together.  *Family members include blood relations, adopted, step, and foster relations, as well as all individuals residing in the same household.  Mark seating in six-foot increments.
  • Individuals attending religious services are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times (See CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance for more detailed information.).
  • No items must be passed to or between attendees who are not family members as defined in EO 61, Order of Public Health Emergency Three. 
  • Any items used to distribute food or beverages must be disposable and used only once and discarded.
  • A thorough cleaning and disinfection of frequently contacted surfaces must be conducted prior to and following any religious services.
  • Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, is permitted in the establishment.
  • Post signage to provide public health reminders regarding social distancing, gatherings, options for high risk individuals, and staying home if sick (samples at the bottom of this document). 
  • If any place of worship cannot adhere to the above requirements, it must not conduct in-person services.  Other suggested guidance for faith communities and funeral directors can be found below. 

BEST PRACTICES:

  • Designate a health coordinator and/or health equity team who will be responsible for COVID-19 planning and preparation for your place of worship.
  • Conduct thorough cleaning before and between services.
  • Use separate doors to enter and exit the establishment when possible. 
  • Allow interior doors to remain open to limit touching of door handles.
  • Provide sanitizing stations throughout the building, particularly at entry and exit points. 
  • Consider installing touchless door entry systems or providing single-use barriers (i.e., paper towels) for use in touching door and sink handles in bathroom facilities. 
  • Use messaging boards or digital messaging and social media for announcements to eliminate use of bulletins and handouts.
  • Members are safer at home.  Continue to provide and encourage use of online streaming and drive-in options for people who can utilize these options. No place of worship should feel obligated to return to in-person worship before they are ready to do so.
  • Consider holding multiple services, with time for thorough cleaning in between each service, to allow for greater distancing during services.
  • Suspend the choir as part of services.
  • Consider shorter services to avoid the need for people to use bathroom facilities.
  • Consider limiting or suspending youth services until a safer time.
  • Consider holding small group or separate services for senior citizens and other high-risk populations
  • Consider making this the first service of the week, after thorough cleaning and disinfection of facilities have been performed. 
  • Ensure the use of face coverings and physical distancing is maintained between individuals at this service.
  • Ensure social distancing in parking lots or common areas.
  • Consider discontinuing use of common items (e.g., microphones, books, hymnals, scriptural texts) that may be shared between people and are difficult to clean. Consider assigning religious books to a family or individual that they can bring to each service, or use a projector for the display of sacred texts, scriptures, and songs.
  • When oils, water, ashes, or other materials are applied to a person’s forehead, self-application should be used, to the extent possible. 
  • Discontinue shared meals and other activities where people may gather in groups (e.g., limit or suspend coffee stations, shared food, meet and greet time before and after services etc.), with the exception of essential food services for low-income residents.

Rector’s Update: June 25, 2020

Dear Restoration,

This week we finished our series on 1 John.  We have been preaching through it since Easter and it has provided deep theology and rich vocabulary for what it means to know that we know the living God.  

The final verse in the letter is “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5: 21)  

It’s an important and interesting way to wind up a book.  

On the one hand, John has been saying this for 5 chapters.  Don’t give your trust and worship to anything besides God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We have eternal life!  Christians live every moment in a relationship with God that has already begun and will continue forever.  We are His children.  Jesus has defeated the power and consequence of sin.  The Spirit is in us.  

The other way of saying this positive exhortation is the sentence he uses to close-  keep yourselves from idols.  At this moment in time, we are experiencing the exposure and limitations of lots of idols.  I invite you to pray and listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks to you about the idols that are active in your own life. 

In case you missed the end of my sermon from Sunday, here are my reflections on the idols that are failing us in this cultural moment. I hope you will watch it again or for the first time.  

On Sunday I invited you again to consider purchasing The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby and to reserve the evenings of July 8, 15, 22 for a 3 week conversation on racial injustice and the church.  You can find the book, here, at one of our VA, independent booksellers.

Some of you have asked why am I inviting us to read this particular book and to have this particular conversation?  Here are a few thoughts:

First, I want to be clear on what I am not doing.  My agenda is not to heap guilt and shame on white people (like myself).  Christians have been set free from guilt by the finished work of Jesus on the cross and shame never moves people in a direction for real and lasting change.  

Instead of guilt and shame, it may be that God moves us to feel grief and lament.  These have always been the Biblical precursors to real change and amendment of life.  The good news is that God always joins us in our grief, for Jesus promised that those who mourn will be comforted (Matthew 5:4).  Thus, lament is a place to meet God.  I want us to meet God as we have this conversation.

Second, let me tell you about Jemar Tisby.  Mr. Tisby is a Christian, black, historian, who was trained in the evangelical tradition (he has an MDiv. from Reformed Theological Seminary) that trained most of the pastors Restoration people already trust.  Mr. Tisby is writing about church history from his academic work (he is a PhD candidate at the University of Mississippi) and from his lived experience as a black follower of Jesus.  Unless you have read other Christian, evangelically trained, black historians, I would encourage you to read this.  It will help you to understand the way many, many black people view the church’s role in bringing us to this particular moment in the summer of 2020.  I am not asking you to agree with that viewpoint.  I am inviting you to learn from it and to talk about it.

Third, I want to have this conversation because the direction the ‘church’ (that’s ‘church’ for any racial hue) should go from this point in time in regards to racial injustice is not at all clear.  Although there have been many policy suggestions over the last few weeks that will require each of us to decide what we think about their merit, the church has not yet offered guidance for how Christians should move forward together.  I would like to hear from you and to discuss with you how the church should respond-  how our church should respond.  In order to have that conversation, I submit that we need to know the history that got us to this conversation in 2020 and Mr. Tisby’s book is a helpful resource to engage the sins and the transgressions of the church over the last 400 years.  

So, I invite you to read it.  I invite you to attend all 3 Zoom conversations.  I invite you to pray for the church, for our church, and for the conversation we need to have about moving forward in reconciliation, justice, and hope.  I am grateful to be on this journey with you.

-David     

Rector’s Update: June 10, 2020

Dear Restoration,

It has been a full week.  I am grateful for the words we prayed in morning prayer today from Psalm 100:

‘Know that the Lord, he is God!  It is He who made us, and we are his;  we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.’  

I am so grateful to be HIS.

I have 4 things for you this week and I am sincerely asking that you would respond to each one.  I want you to know about our plans.  I want to hear how you are doing.  I want you to have opportunities to gather with friends.  I want you to listen and learn about the racial injustice moment in which we find ourselves.  Thanks.  You are a responsive church and there are several responses I am requesting from you this week.

1.  Watch the Parish Meeting:  Ou wardens, treasurer, and I hosted 2 parish meetings this week.  Well over 200 of you listened in-  which is record-breaking for a parish meeting by a long shot.  Thanks.  If you already heard the parish meeting, you can skip this one!  If you missed it, please take 45 minutes and listen as I recount the last 3 months and suggest how the next few months could look at Restoration.  This is information you want.

2.  Fill out the survey:  We want to know how you are doing now and how you are feeling about the possibility of re-opening our facility for public gatherings and worship in the future.  I would love for every person who gets this email to fill it out.  Thank you!

3.  Host a Summer Gathering:  As I explained at the parish meeting, we are seeking to offer a variety of small, outdoor opportunities for people in our congregation to connect to each other this summer.  Perhaps you would like to host a yard Eucharist, or popsicles in your driveway, or pizza on your patio, or ‘sitting in adirondack chairs with no kids around for quiet conversation’, or something we haven’t thought of yet…  Fill out this form with your awesome idea this week.  Then, next week, look for a sign-up genius with lots of summer gathering opportunities!

4.  Read this book.  Listen to this lecture.  Join this conversation.  In this time of unrest over racial injustice, I am going to lead a Zoom discussion on Jemar Tisby’s book, The Color of Compromise:  the truth about the American church’s complicity in racism.  You can get the book, here.  Not sure you want to read the book?  Please listen to this lecture that Jemar did last year on a ‘A Racial Reformation in the 21st Century’.  You will be challenged by the book and the lecture.  You will disagree with some of it.  You will learn stuff you didn’t know.  Let’s talk about it.  On July 8, 15, and 22 at 7pm, I will host a Zoom discussion on the book.  It is open to anyone who wants to participate from anywhere in the world.  Invite a friend.  

Thank you for reading and responding, Restoration!  Thank you for faithfully joining in to the significant work that God is doing in us and through our church.  I look forward to seeing more of you in person as the weeks go by!

So glad to be His.
-David 

Rector’s Update: June 3, 2020

Hi Restoration,

So much is happening.  So many voices.  So many words. 

Thanks for taking the time to engage with what we are saying at Restoration.  Cling to the truth that our Lord reigns.  He is a very present help right now.

TONIGHT:  a prayer meeting 

If you’re like me, current events have left me drained, discouraged and at a loss. I long with you for a world made right; where righteousness and justice reign. We look forward to the heavenly reign of Christ and yet we need wisdom, courage and strength to live as kingdom citizens right now. To this end we must pray.

Tonight I am gathering with the leaders of other churches in Arlington and I invite you to join us.  It will begin at 6pm.  You can access it on YouTube, here or through Restoration’s FB page, here

I apologize for the late notice.  This event just came together today.

Parish Meeting Warm-Up Questions

We have a parish meeting on June 7 at 11:15am (right after the service) and June 9 at 8pm.  We will talk about re-opening, finances, and summer plans.  I would love to know what you want to hear.  If you have a question about life in our congregation, hit reply (today!) and let me know.  We want to be prepared with the information you most need.  

A conversation about racism, the church, grief, and hope

This is my rector’s update for this week.  I invite you to take time to listen to the whole thing.

  • In the update, I will read a letter from four of our Anglican bishop’s that articulates Restoration’s position about the killing of George Floyd.  You can read it, here.
  • We will also mention a Ted Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called The Danger of a Single Story

When we come to God in prayer, we feel our grief and we are strengthened by His presence.  

“But for me it is good to be near God;  I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.”  Psalm 73: 28

-David

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