A Pastoral Letter From Rev. Caroline Penhale
January 10, 2022
Orleans United Church
1111 Orleans Blvd,
Orleans, ON K1C 7C8
I have news to share. This news is not easy but it is news that I trust we can and will work through. We are a good community that way; one that consistently finds its way in faith.
I am writing to let you know that I have requested a change in pastoral relations that will go into effect July 31, 2022. I will work right up to June 28, 2022, and then I will take my vacation in July. That way, there will be no interruption of the important work we will do together in the next six months.
Change really is the only constant, or so it would seem in my life story anyway. The past five years that I have served with Molly and with all of you, we have navigated many changes in our faith community.
Being in this community has been a positive experience for me. Particularly, I want to express my gratitude for having been able to work next to Molly. Our collaboration has helped me grow as a minister. From Molly, I have learned what excellence in worship takes, what it is to be a faithful servant leader, and how to keep pace with a big, busy congregation. You are in good and capable hands.
As for me, God is leading me in a new direction. With God’s nudging and help, I plan to start a coaching practice serving clergy and other faith leaders, and I will be discerning how to continue serving as a UCC minister in the wider church. I am both excited and nervous about this new direction and welcome your prayers.
I will miss the “can-do” spirit of Orleans United Church. Over these past five years, I have enjoyed and appreciated working with such talented and caring people, including Scott, Kim and the lay leaders who have stepped up to serve in various ways. I have also consistently felt your love and support. Thank you.
God will certainly be present in this next chapter, guiding and leading in directions that we can’t quite see yet. I trust that this next chapter in OUC’s story will be full of God’s goodness and pray that you will be surprised and delighted by what comes next.
It has been an honour to serve you. I will miss you and I pray that your ministry as followers of Jesus’ Way will continue to flourish in the years to come.
The BIG question: When will we return to in-person worship?
Beloved OUC family, As I hear of more and more of our church family receiving first and second vaccines, as the number of COVID-19 cases in our region continue to decrease, and as provincial restrictions are being gradually eased, there is much reason for celebration.
Like many of you I have long awaited this glimmer of hope and possibility during what has seemed to be an endless time apart. And, like many of you, I long for the time when we can be back together in worship and community.
However, we will not be complete until we know our ENTIRE faith family can join together safely. There are certain realities about gathering that we need to be mindful of. As Christians it is our call to protect the vulnerable among us. It is also our responsibility to model compassion and understanding in our actions.
At OUC we have always prided ourselves in living as one family – and that means that we protect and care for all members. Presently, not all of our members have had access to both vaccines, and our children have not been able to access vaccinations at all. We need to be mindful of protecting them.
Furthermore, we know the practices that we have come to value and cherish the most about gathering together for worship are those that prove most problematic in terms of the spread of COVID-19. We rejoice in singing at OUC – both listening to our choir and joining together in song. We love connecting at OUC – chatting in the pews, sharing hugs and handshakes, sitting with each other during coffee time.
We are nourished by the sacraments – baptisms and communion are the tangible signs of God’s presence among us. All of these beloved parts of our gatherings are simply not possible at the present time, and would be sorely missed were we to begin to worship without them.
With time and patience, we trust that all these things will once again be possible. How it is we worship has changed these past months as we have been apart.
We have adapted in ways we never imagined possible. We have changed as a congregation in many different ways – gained new members, welcomed new families, said goodbye to beloved friends. Our new reality will need to be embraced as we reintegrate in-person interactions with virtual offerings.
We have had to examine our entire way of BEING church, and we now have the opportunity to reimagine the possibilities that the Spirit has in store for us. This is exciting and scary and takes time, discernment, and prayerful consideration.
All these things to say, the time IS coming when we will be gathering together again in person for worship, meetings and fellowship as a faith community.
Like so many things in our lives, and in the life of the church, that time is NOT YET. We are in that wonderful, terrifying, advent waiting time where we sit in anticipation and preparation.
Our church council has committed themselves to ensuring as careful and seamless a transition as possible. I have been impressed and touched by their commitment to OUC’s mission and ministry during these challenging times. They remain dedicated to the well-being of the church and all its members, and will work diligently on your behalf towards reopening our doors safely.
The Worship Committee is meeting on July 29th to take stock of where things are at, and to discuss options for how worship services could evolve over the late-summer and early-fall months. We will communicate plans and progress with you through the weekly newsletter and through announcements in virtual worship.
If you have any questions or concerns, you are welcome to contact the Chair of Council, Ron Hunt at 613-298-1626 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Waiting anxiously and patiently to see you all, Your servant in Christ, Rev. Molly
A Note From the Revs
October 15, 2020
Luc Lamadeleine has been faithfully composing Coronavirus Connections these past several months on behalf of your Adult Education team. This week’s “Note from the Revs” comes as the latest installation of Coronavirus Connections. Thanks, Luc!
On October 2nd, the Ontario Government introduced tighter COVID-19 restrictions following sharp increases in reported cases, especially in the areas of Toronto, Peel and Ottawa. Medical experts advise that we may well be experiencing a second wave of the Coronavirus.
Naturally, this latest setback is both disappointing and disheartening. As a community of faith, we long to see each other and to worship together in person. We miss spending time with our friends and family and taking part in the numerous activities we enjoyed before the coronavirus.
This has been a difficult time for all us and may yet be so for some time to come. Nonetheless, we ask everyone, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, to take some time, in quiet reflection, to consider all our blessings. In our current workshop, “Being Grateful During Difficult Times”, we are learning that we may lessen periods of anxiety and distress by being regularly and intentionally grateful.
Reverend Eric Lukacs, of the Virtch Worship team, produces a weekly video series entitled “Piece for Peace”, which he posts to Facebook every Monday morning. His Thanksgiving edition provides resources and tools for taking care of our mental and emotional well-being in these times:
If you cannot access Facebook, please email Molly or Caroline to receive a different video link.
We recognize that being intentionally grateful may not be enough to overcome periods of mental distress. If anyone is experiencing acute mental health issues, As Rev. Eric’s video points out, please reach out and seek support from a medical professional or be in touch with Caroline or Molly to schedule an office visit. We are here to support you. You are not alone. We are a community of believers and God is always with us.
Finally, please remember that we are a community who prays for one another. We invite you to pass along your prayer requests and it will be a pleasure to pray for you. And this week, we will be keeping Rev. Molly, and Stephen and Emma in our prayers as Molly undergoes and recovers from surgery.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Grace and peace & with thanks to Luc,
Molly & Caroline