As you know, Autumn is “Stewardship Season” at Allin Church! In step with leaves falling and the air becoming cooler, our worship typically includes testimonies of faith and hope both of which are planted and nourished through the ministry, programing and community of this church. We tell our stories as reasons for giving back to the church -committing ourselves as stewards, if you will, of this institution, its community, and our outward ministry as God’s divine grace to Dedham.
This year, however, has been very different than any other year! By directive of the state and in caution and care for our community, on March 13th we closed and locked our doors for what we thought at the time might be a couple of weeks, while we waited for this virus to pass us by. And as we did we smiled hope at one another saying, “See you at Easter!” Easter came and went, though, as did Mother’s Day and then the program year. We jumped into digital worship and some of us didn’t, imagining this too would pass, and we watch each week as the virus did not pass.
It has been nearly 8 months and we are only now realizing that what we thought were temporary changes have become semi permanent. And so we grieve: the loss of seeing one another regularly, the loss of know each other – our stories and trials, the loss of participating in the life of the church. For some, I imagine it feels as if March 13th was the day the church closed.
I can assure you, however, that that is not the case, and in fact, these past months we’ve been busy doing the work of Christ now, maybe more than ever – though our ministry and discipleship looks a bit different than it did! Since March your deacons have put in overtime organizing and helping plan worship, attending to the social needs of the community of Dedham and connecting in around our new Director of Music, Andrew Welch. Prudential members have met regularly to write and rewrite our COVID safe guidelines, attend to the needs of our church buildings, and communicate around budget growth and need. Music ministry made some very difficult decisions this summer regarding our music program and then hired Andrew Welch to lead us into this new world of digital worship. Pastoral Relations has been checking in on me and you insuring communication stays healthy. Christian Education has been busy building up a search process for a director who will help us reclaim our children and youth programs in the social distanced, digital era of the church.
As your pastor, I have made every attempt to stay atop new worship styles and technology while representing Dedham Clergy on several newly formed task forces including the Dedham COVID Relief Task Force and several efforts to address racial inequity creating opportunity for education and action around antiracism work. And in the in-betweens, I have spent too much time memorializing and burying your loved ones and those of the greater Dedham community.
Stewardship, too… has been researching what “Stewardship Season” might look like when we cannot gather, communicating with our conference and local UCC representatives and imagining how we might know and be God’s love into and through 2021.
In short, Allin Church as actively doing the work of Christ and has been with the energy and faith of true Christian disciples. We are committed to continuing our ministry into next year and we hope that you will join us with your financial pledges and donations. Making a financial commitment to this church and its ministry no long necessarily means heating the building and paying for grounds maintenance but instead continuing Allin’s presence in and care for Dedham residents during this frightening, economically challenging, emotionally damaging, and socially and politically divisive time. Yes, the church needs your pledge or donation for 2021 but the down of Dedham needs your support for this institution also – now more than ever.
Friends, in the past 8 months we have humbly made our mark in this town and I have no doubt our presence, advocacy, leadership, and charity are essential to the spirit, soul, and stability of the residents of Dedham. Please consider making a generous pledge or donation to our faithful efforts!
Rev. Cheryl Kerr