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June 4, 2020

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

For so many days I have struggled each day to think and pray about what it was that I wanted to say
to you. And, just as I was sitting down to write it, something else would happen. And I was back to
the drawing board. Yet, I will wait no longer, even though by the time you read this things may
have changed again, perhaps drastically.

My heart, like yours, is breaking at the discord and chaos running rampant in our country. I hardly
know what to think or believe. So I hold to the basics -- George Floyd was killed while in police
custody while one officer pushed his knee into his neck and three other officers watched and
listened as Mr. Floyd begged for his life saying, "I can't breathe," words we have heard before
when Eric Garner died in New York City in 2014. In the aftermath of Mr. Floyd's death there are
protests by people of all races against those police actions that have caused the death of an
untold number of black men and women, deaths of which we are now becoming increasingly aware
because of the use of video recording. Some of those peaceful protests have turned to unlawful
rioting that seems to have been brought on by outside instigators of varying motivations. We join
the prayers of tens (perhaps hundreds) of thousands that this violence end and that the racism that
prompted the protests be clearly addressed. Come Holy Spirit!

We all are weary as the days of uncertainty due to the novel coronavirus carry on and on. We each
make personal decisions regarding the risks we will take as we face the challenges of re-opening --
when and how and how often and what precautions should be taken. At this time, your council is
cognizant of the fact that over the last two months, the number of cases in Polk County has
increased nearly tenfold (126 on 4/3/2020 and 1053 on 6/2/2020). The CDC and White House
guidelines urge that re-opening begin when there has been a 14 day trend of downward trajectory in
the number of new cases. In my view, one of the greatest risks of this novel virus is that it is
so readily transmitted by those who are asymptomatic and have no idea that they are infecting
others. Given our demographic, it is clear that caution both individually and as a community of
faith is a reasonable response. The material that we are sending out each week will continue for
the foreseeable future. And as a side note, beginning the week of June 14, our Bible Studies will
focus on the Old Testament readings appointed (in the semi-continuous series) of the lectionary
that we follow. Come Holy Spirit!

During this time of chaos and confusion, we seek to draw ever closer to God and each other. We
worship, we pray, we meditate, we serve, we rest, and we wait confident that God is at work in
God's church even in these days of uncertainty. So please rest in the confidence that Pastor
Marilyn expressed so well, that just as God has before, God will create order out of chaos and will
never leave us forsaken. Come Holy Spirit!

As you read this, I am beginning a few days away at a retreat center in Hendersonville, NC. This
will be a solitary time at a place specially touched by God's creative hand. If you need to reach
me for any reason, I will be checking my email and text messages from time to time. I will get back to you when I am able. If it is an emergency, please call. If you would like to have a time of conversation upon my return, we can do that by telephone, a safe distance meeting, or by FaceTime or Zoom. We will make a way.

So, in these days, I invite you to hear these words from the hymn, "My Life Flows On in Endless Song”

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?

In Christ's Love,
Pastor Pam+