Greetings from Rev. Mike Woods

Greetings St. Liz,

The Woods family is very excited to begin our time with you this coming week. It has been a long hot summer for us as I am sure it has been the same for you.

I am writing this after standing outside with our oldest daughter, Harper, as we watched a nice little summer rainstorm pour down upon us. It was just long enough that it knocked the heat out of the air and left a cool breeze in its wake. It was cool enough that we actually felt like spending more than ten minutes outside after the storm passed. ...Read More

Reminders, Housekeeping, Business, etc.

by The Rev. Daniel P Strandlund on July 23, 2020
This week, I’m taking a break from our Romans series to attend to some business.
First, thank y’all for your patience with Sunday morning worship.  We’re still learning the ins and outs of live streaming and plan to continue with this method for the foreseeable future.  We’ve got a couple ideas for improving sound and lighting quality, and hopefully we’ll be in a position to try some of those this week.  My intention is to continue live streaming for folks at home even after we’ve begun reopening for in-person worship.
Second, I continue to work mostly from home.  Lucy is, as well.  The reasons for this are the same as they have been: health and safety, both ours and yours.  Now that Lucy and I are both in parish ministry, we’ve realized that any exposure risk one of us encounters also impacts the other’s ability to attend to in-person pastoral or administrative matters at their church.  From a pandemic perspective, two church communities intersect in the Strandlund house.  Working from home minimizes our exposure risk, and helps keep us able to attend to critical ministries like Sunday worship, acute pastoral concerns, and the like without our presence posing an undue risk to our church members. 
Having said that, I have scheduled in person pastoral meetings on the church front porch.  There’s open air, wind, and space enough to distance ourselves easily. It’s also shaded and in the morning is not too hot.  So, as a reminder, while I am not doing casual home visits or meeting for lunch as I normally would, if you need to sit down together, that can still happen and please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Finally, a financial update.  The short version is that St. Liz is not where we’d hoped to be, but all things considered, we’re doing okay.  There are three primary reasons for this: first and most important, y’all continue to be generous.  This spring we had several folks move their financial giving to our Clover online app.  In a recent conversation with Canon Caroline Mowen at the diocese, she said our embrace of online giving was wonderful: “I wish I could pack y’all up and take you everywhere in the diocese!”  If you’re not yet giving online and would like to, there are instructions for “Give via text” at the bottom of this newsletter.  You can give online at our website.  Just scroll down for the “Give Online” button. 
The second reason is that the Diocese has offered relief on congregational apportionments.  (Just as each household pledges to St. Liz, so too does each congregation in the diocese give an apportionment to the diocese.  The amount is based on the size and financial status of each congregation.)  In April, the diocese forgave all apportionment payments across the board.  This summer, they have offered further apportionment forgiveness based on congregational need.  The Bishop’s Committee finance and admin team applied for and received apportionment forgiveness for May and June.  If needed, we have the opportunity to apply for July and August, as well.
Third, as of this month Lucy is working fulltime at St. John’s in New Braunfels.  Thus, St. Liz is now responsible for only one half of the clergy health insurance costs we had been paying.  Needless to say, this is a timely easing of our congregation’s monthly expenses.
Again, all that is to say that we’re doing okay, though we’re not in the position we’d like to be in.  In April, the Bishop’s Committee voted unanimously to continue paying all our staff at regular rates, regardless of whether the pandemic has prevented them from doing work they would normally do.  This is a small but significant way St. Liz has remained generous during what is for many a financially unsettling time.  I was and continue to be a strong supporter of this practice.  For the reasons listed above, it continues to be possible.
We have experienced a financial drop, however.  This is partly due to the realities of individual households dealing with slimmer bank accounts during the pandemic.  Thus, on the one hand, some of this financial drop is faithful and right: spiritual disciplines like giving must adapt to the reality in which we live.  God does not want you giving to your church if it means jeopardizing groceries or the mortgage; a decrease in giving can therefore simply be a faithful response to unexpected change.  On the other hand, however, many of us whose financial realities have remained unchanged through the pandemic have simply not made the necessary adjustment to online giving or to mailing in a check.  If that’s you, please remember that spiritual disciplines like giving must adapt to the reality in which we live. 
We’ll get through this, but getting through this means precisely that we must be willing to be in it for a while.  Being in it means adapting accordingly.  We’ve all adapted in numerous ways already.  Let your giving be one of them.  It’s just part of what faithfulness looks like right now.
God’s Peace,