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Dear Members of Faith,  

My bike got a flat the other day in Bidwell Park, and I walked it back to my car.  It was one of the most beautiful, misty, quiet, and colorful mornings I can ever remember in the Park. Like you, I’m trying to balance a life of being bottled up and a bit isolated with one that works hard to get out and see the world in our back yard.  It’s especially great this time of year being on the other side of all that smoke!  And I am looking forward to perhaps an unwinding of the pandemic after the first of the year.  

The Church Council has worked hard this past month to keep up our support of our great staff (much appreciated by me as they go each week to get a Covid test—that many nasal swabs can’t be fun).  I admire their consistency, continuing communication and visitation with members; and the great Sunday services—it is my favorite online experience each week.  We decided to regularize our worship over the next month or two with cold weather, rain, and the unpredictability of the virus (as I write this we just moved into the purple tier) so our Sundays will focus on the 9:30 a.m. online service going forward with no regular in-person worship planned for a while.  The installation of our audio-visual system in the sanctuary and the campus networking project is underway.  These projects were only possible because of your generosity and support for our stewardship campaign.  I will have an update on our gifts and progress working on the church building right after the first of the year, but we are on track to have the sound system ready to go for worship indoors very soon! 

Our biggest challenge right now is our general fund budget.  While we forged ahead with hardly a blip in giving for the first few months of this fiscal year, we have hit some rough going, and are facing some deficits increasing monthly in our general fund.  Reserves help but don’t solve our larger problem.  I know that not all of us can give financially right now--all of the gifts that you give to our community (time, prayer, encouragement, hospitality, financial support) are appreciated—your generous hearts are what distinguish this community from others that we belong to.   Our staff and programs depend on your diligent and consistent financial support, and so I am asking you to keep your regular contributions up as you are able. Just like our children and grandchildren, the Church Council and our financial officers welcome the generous gifts that others leave “under the tree” at the end of the year (in the same spirit as Ebenezer Scrooge’s wonderful gift of a goose to Bob Cratchit’s family at the end of A Christmas Carol!).  That sort of financial generosity goes a long way towards covering us during the sometimes lean months in the spring.

Blessings to you all in the coming months as we (hopefully) move out of our fall and winter of discontent.  Join a Face Class on Sunday mornings if you are looking for fellowship and a chance to talk about some great books and ideas.  December and January bring a wonderful study of the Church calendar and the lectionary reading for 2021: The Gospel of Mark. And remember that each week there are lots of opportunities to connect with your fellow members in social time, worship, prayer, and mutual support. I would welcome the chance to get together with you for a short chat or cup of tea or coffee if you are willing and able.  Let me know if that would work!

Joel Zimbelman, Council President