Proud of my daughter Jory Thomas winning first place in the ‘Run Bay Harbor’ community race, January 2020!

Dear Congregation,

Greetings, as we approach our eighteenth Sunday of virtually worshipping together through live streaming on Facebook. I was surprised at that large number when I counted those services up on my calendar! Our first Facebook service was on March 22nd, after the previous Sunday’s worship was abruptly cancelled because of Covid-19 concerns, and we had no worship at all that day. Including two special Holy Week services, we have been together in worship virtually twenty times now over roughly four months.

I know that I, and probably most of you, had no idea that we would continue to be worshipping virtually, rather than together in CCC’s Sanctuary, for so long with no end in sight. As we see in the news every day, we in Miami-Dade County are now living in a Hot Spot in the U.S. with the reported numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths at a daily high level.

And so, it occurs to me that we are now in a marathon, rather than a sprint! A marathon is by definition a long- distance running race of 26 miles, 385 yards.  A carry-over from that racing definition is another definition of the word “marathon” as, “A long-lasting or difficult task or operation of a specified kind.” My Church History professor used to say that seminary was a marathon, not a sprint. I found comfort in that thought then, and I suggest we can find comfort now, by re-framing how we view our current pandemic reality.

We are in a marathon as Christ Congregational United Church of Christ. The prize at the end of this race of uncertain duration, is to continue to be a healthy, faithful, church community, worshipping and working together as followers of Jesus Christ. To do this as best we can, it would be most helpful to have feedback from each of you. We are in this together! I would very much like to hear your thoughts and opinions on the Sunday worship service—what you like, what changes you’d recommend, any creative ideas you might have. Please email, text, phone (925-640-9289), or write me.

As you may know, we’re now filming in the Sanctuary doing the best we can using my iPhone 11 attached to my tripod. (Thank you, Lorrie and Daniel!) Because our sound system in the Sanctuary has long been a challenge, we are using only one free-standing microphone. The sound quality leaves something to be desired! I know that having good sound is a priority. We are currently investigating what options there are for upgrading the sound system and increasing live-streaming capabilities. It has become clear that continuing to live-steam worship in the future, even after we are able to return to in-person worship, is important. I am glad to share with you that the church has received a $2,500 technology grant from the Florida Conference. Thanks to Moderator Lorrie LeGrand for applying!

I would also appreciate hearing your suggestions on ways that we can expand our use of Zoom. We have purchased a year’s service and so can use Zoom without time limits. We’re currently using it for board meetings, the CCC Women’s Group, and Sunday Fellowship hour after worship. In September I plan to begin weekly Zoom Bible study. What else would you recommend?

I know that some of you are watching virtual worship services of other churches, in addition to ours. Please share any good ideas you get from them. This is a great opportunity to have a variety of worship experiences and learn from each other.

I leave you with these two scripture passages containing references to running a good race in faith. It’s important to remember that we are not running alone in this marathon! God is with us!

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Candy

Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,* and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

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