‘Loving One Another Means Listening to One Another’

A Message from Presiding Officer Vicki McPhee

Vicki McPhee

Often, in the early days of September, surrounding many aspects of our lives, there is a sense of returning. Children and teenagers return to their classes, university and college students return to their programs and people of all ages return to their extra-curricular activities. And… those of us church folks return to worshipping after a summer of travelling and sleeping in on Sundays.

This September, some eighteen months into this global pandemic of COVID-19, there have also been many discussions centered on a return of a slightly different sort—a return to in-person worship. As varied as our communities of faith are in Chinooks Winds Region, so too have been our approaches to worshipping together once again in our buildings.

It is hard to know what the right way is to open so that everyone remains safe. We have worked hard to limit the spread of the virus in our churches and as more and more people are vaccinated, it seems the end is near. The Delta variant is persistent, however, and we must still be cautious. People are tired of being apart, weary of wearing masks, sanitizing hands, and totally done with not being permitted to hug one another or share a meal with friends.

At a recent clergy gathering (by Zoom of course!), our Pastoral Relations Minister, Rev. Stephen Harper, shared the quotation, “When we come to our end, that is where God begins”. Stephen is not sure where he found this quotation, but someone quickly piped up that it was similar to the first verse of the Beatitudes in translation, The Message: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” (Matt 5:3).

We might be feeling at the end of our ropes but, never forget, we are God’s people. And, as God’s people, we are called to love one another as Jesus loves us. (John 15:12).

As the people of God, we are to make decisions and behave in such a way that ensures the safety and health of our communities—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Whether a congregation decides to open their building, remain closed or enter a hybrid model of offering worship, it is necessary to keep in mind, there is no set way of proceeding. Each community of faith must take into account the needs and well-being of their clergy and staff, volunteers, and members of the congregation. Loving one another means listening to one another and respectfully discerning together what is best for everyone involved.

September marks personally for me a return to congregational life after four months of leave—a spring and summer of sabbatical and holidays. It is also a return to working with the Executive and Staff of Chinook Winds Region as Presiding Officer. The Executive will meet later this month to develop a vision of ministry and do some long-term financial planning so that the Region can create policies that best support communities of faith and effective leadership within the Region. I am looking forward to reconnecting with folks over these next few weeks. Please reach out to share the stories of your ministries whether they be moments of sadness or times of celebration. vicki@symonsvalleyuc.com

Vicki McPhee is Presiding Officer of the Chinook Winds Regional Council and also Minister at Symons Valley United Calgary.