In each Epistle, this column features a single question to which our pastors are asked to reply. It is usually connected to the issue’s theme and crafted to reveal the unique personalities and experiences of our beloved leaders.

What is something in the “new normal” you are thankful for?

Pastor June Barrow
I am grateful that medically vulnerable people, including my own parents, now feel safe resuming the activities they love—such as sitting in church with fellow worshipers. I realize anew that the “longing for belonging” we feel is one of God’s gifts to us.

Pastor Steven Grant
I am thankful that through the wonder of technology we have discovered how to stay connected with our church family both near and far. Through Zoom meetings, online teaching resources, and livestreamed worship services, we can minister and fellowship effectively even when we are not able to be together in person. Certainly, this is not a wholly adequate substitute for being together in person, but God has given us a way to continue to nurture our community of faith as we reach out to one another.

Pastor Su Kim
I am thankful that in the midst of an unprecedented, worldwide pandemic the Word of God was as relevant, encouraging, and comforting to us as it was to its original hearers and readers. The “new normal” will continue to change “but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8b). And I am also thankful for my daughters’ amazing baking skills.

Pastor Doug Pratt
I am deeply grateful for how flexible the staff, elders, deacons, and members of our church have been in times of quarantine and restrictions. You all have been amazingly adaptable this past year, pivoting to different forms of church life and keeping your spirits strong and your focus on the Lord. I am so proud, in a good and righteous way, of what you have accomplished—of what we, together, have undertaken by being open to change, to new ideas, and to doing things differently. There is an old proverb that the last words of a dying church are, “We’ve never done it that way before.” Those words are certainly not true of First Church. I am honored to serve as one of the pastors of this great congregation.

Pastor Brad Rogers
Our Christian hope is that “in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28a). In every crisis, God is working out His purposes. Whatever the “new normal” will look like following the global implications of the past year, I expect that it will include an adaptation to technology. Throughout history when new technology is developed, God has used it to carry the message of Christ to new audiences. Remember the advent of the printing press prior to the Reformation? I am thankful for the way God has been developing new virtual avenues of communication through the local church. Many of us pray for revival, and I look forward to, and give thanks for, what God will do with new ways of sharing the Good News in the “new normal.”

Pastor Allen Walworth
Finding and defining “normal” in this pandemic and looking forward to post-pandemic times requires patience, creativity, and faith. But lest this season of crisis be wasted on us, I find myself grateful for the ways we have all been forced to rely on God for our security, to be creative and fresh in our planning for ministry, and to cherish anew the simple joys of human touch and community.