Annual Report: Gestational Promise, Liminality, and Possibility

Note: this was submitted as a part of the annual report to the congregation for Colonial Church as a part of our Annual Meeting for 2021.

What a year this has been!

Last year at our annual meeting the Comcast internet service went down…we were in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, still in the earliest days of this pandemic in so many ways (though we little knew it!). Only three weeks prior to transitioning our ministry to online formats, our congregation unanimously voted in Jeff Lindsay as our new senior minister. Little did we realize what this past year would bring…

As Jeff said while candidating for becoming Senior Minister and again throughout this year: “God is doing a new thing.” The healing ministry of birthing and midwifing new things is the reason I came to this church just over three years ago: out of a desire and sense of call to see if we might discover what the new things God would be inviting us into. Indeed, I joined the staff in the midst of ReForming—our discernment process about what God was calling us to next.

And more than anything, I believe that the “new thing,” the “next” is for us to discover and live into what it might mean for us to Re-Found our church (with thanks to Jane Crouch for suggesting this idea during our January 10th Name Change Special Meeting) in this year as we celebrate our last 75 years and look forward to the next 75 (God-willing!). Like any community, navigating change such as this—let alone doing so in a world that is new and complex in so many ways, particularly in communities of faith— is some of the hardest work we humans can undertake.

So in many ways, my past year has been focused on holding space for us to collectively birth the new thing that God has been gestating in our midst (as I often say, I understand my call, in part, to be a “midwife of freedom”). As many of you know well from my own story of navigating miscarriage and infertility, I am deeply aware of the reality of the vulnerability and liminality of gestating life. Nothing is given nor assured in this movement from conception to birth. And so I have done what I can this year to pray, to work, and to make possible the birthing of this new thing—the new things—whatever God may have this community be and become.

The pastoral task of midwifery over this past year has looked like long nights editing services and learning new technologies. Midwifery has brought about podcasts and zoom gatherings. Midwifery has looked like prayers and agonizing days concerned about you and all of our well-being in the midst of this pandemic. Midwifery shaped how I showed up throughout leaning into the invitation to change our name. Here are some snapshots of what this has brought about in our midst as we’ve sought to be the church during COVID:

  • Zoom (utilized for one-on-one meetings, classes, studies, and forums)
    • Number of Meetings: 1,616
    • Number of Minutes: 886,385
    • Total Participants: 14,762
  • YouTube:
    • Total Views: 69,400
    • Watch Time: 14,700 hours
    • Subscribers: 434
  • Podcast:
    • Episodes: 21
    • Total plays: 2,000
  • Monday Meditations:
    • 52 Episodes
    • Average Weekly Viewing: 225
  • Weekly Services: Average Weekly Worship Views: 801
    • Traditional Average Weekly Worship Views: 563
    • Alternative Average Weekly Worship Views: 338
  • New Members Fall 2020: 25
  • All-Church Events (Music in the Parking Lot, Outdoor Events, etc.): 8
  • All-Church Connection Phone Calls (during COVID and at Christmas): 3,000
  • Zoom Prayer Gatherings: 415
  • Name Change Congregational Engagement (via email, Courtyard Conversations, Town Halls, and the Special Meeting ): 750 unique people shared

This just represents some of the ways that we’ve still been able to connect and be the church together through classes, Bible Studies, worship services, and zoom coffee meetings. The work of the church still thriving during COVID-19!

Indeed, it’s been a year of grief and a year of new things… hope…and longing for the breaking forth of new life.

And you know what? We’re still here… and God is and has been doing new things in each of us. So my prayer as we look forward to the future is that we might have the courage and discernment to continue this good laboring together as we anticipate, cultivate, labor, and celebrate what will be birthed in and through each of us and in our midst.

God is doing a new thing. Let us be born again…together.

“We know that from the beginning until now, all of creation has been groaning in one great act of giving birth. And not only creation, but all of us who possess the first fruits of the Spirit—we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free. In this hope we are saved. But hope is not hope if its object is seen; why does one hope for what one sees? And hoping for what we cannot see means awaiting it with patient endurance.”

Romans 8:22-25, The Inclusive Bible

Laboring with you,

Rev. Sara WG

Senior Associate Minister

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