Preacher: Rev. Kristin Stoneking
Scripture: Revelation 21:1-7
Our 2020 year-in-review service reprises some of the music, images and prayers that encapsulate specific moments of this extraordinary year. Pastor Kristin’s message, rooted in Revelation 21:1-7, reminds us that all things are made new through God.
Think back with me to that Friday the 13th in March, when you received an urgent message saying that Sunday March 15 would be our last Sunday in the church building for the foreseeable future. Concerns about the spread of the coronavirus had caused us to join with others to flatten the curve. Then the very next day, another message went out saying that worship on Sunday 15th would be online. The church building was closed.
On the morning of the 15th, a handful of folks headed to Epworth to livestream our service, something we had never done before and were a little unsure about. But what greeted us at the church that morning was far more of a crisis than we imagined—the entire Fellowship Hall was flooded with about three inches of standing water. A pipe in the bathroom just outside the sanctuary had come loose from the wall and water had filled the upstairs hall, soaking it and rained through into the Fellowship Hall below. We had no idea how appropriate the anthem you just heard, Apocalypse Lullaby, was for that morning! But thanks to the quick action of staff, the Trustees, Wick Pancoast and crew and a few Epworth volunteers who answered a distress call, $100,000 worth of damage has now been repaired and most Epworthians will never have to register that this happened!
In those early days, I held out hope that we would be back in the building for Easter. As you know, that didn’t happen but we began to get better at creating our service in advance, and new talents rose to meet the challenge.
Susan Jardin soothed us each week with heaven-sent children’s messages that comforted child and elder alike. We moved meetings and groups online and found a new intimacy in sharing weekly communion on Zoom. Our Do Good and Stay in Love with God teams reached out in concern and service while the Do No Harm team made sure we all stayed safe. Indeed, we’ve experienced the depth of the giftedness and generosity of our congregation.
And then in May the murder of George Floyd brought into sharp focus the need to attend to the other pandemic ravaging our nation, that of systemic racism. We organized ourselves in to response working groups and worshipped with leadership from Epworth’s African American members and dug into platform pieces of the Movement for Black Lives.
The work of reckoning continues.
The summer wore on Susan and director of youth ministries, Orion Lacey heroically held camp, very carefully planned, for children and youth, as we continued to pray for frontline workers and all directly affected by the virus.
All of a sudden in late August, the school year was upon us. Orion lightened our hearts with his back to school video as parents, teachers and students all wondered how we could possibly handle months of online school. And learned that we could learn and teach online. It was different, but a necessary adjustment.
We moved farther into the fall and responded with deep commitments and gratitude in pledging for next year.
As Advent began, we reached into one of the core strengths of Epworth, our music ministry and found new ways to fill the night with music and light. It was an Advent like no other, and the yearning we felt as we approached the manger was maybe closer to the feelings that surrounded the original birth than any other.
And now here we are in a new year. To close this look back, we’d like to offer you a sample of our bloopers, our mistakes, and invite you to leave your own bloopers in 2020. God takes all that we’ve done and all that we are and is continually reordering it all into good. May you begin 2021 with the freshness of faith. Amen.
Order of Service (Bulletin) - January 3, 2020
Prelude - Rev. Jerry Asheim
Welcome & Scripture Reading: Revelation 21:1-7 - Rev. Kristin Stoneking
Opening Hymn: "Amazing Grace" - Rev. Jerry Asheim & Melani Gantes, from August 30, 2020
Invocation - Becky Wheat (from May 10, 2020)
Children’s Message - Susan Jardin, from April 19, 2020
Anthem: “Apocalypse Lullaby” - Erin Adachi-Kriege, Cathryn Bruno, Melani Gantes, Judy Kriege; from March 15, 2020
Message - Rev. Kristin Stoneking
Hymn of Response: “Be Thou My Vision"/The View from My Window, from April 26, 2020
Prayers of the People - Misty Harvey, from September 13, 2020
Special Music: “Holy Now”/Memories from past All Church retreats, from May 3, 2020
Offering our Tithes and Gifts - Willa Seldon, from June 14, 2020
Offertory Music: “This Must Be the Place” - Erin Adachi-Kriege & Judy Kriege, from September 27, 2020
Song of Dedication: "Dedication" - Charles Lynch
WE GO FORTH
Closing Hymn: “Lift Every Voice and Sing” - Rev. Jerry Asheim & Chris Poston, from June 14, 2020
Benediction - Michael Martin, from November 15, 2020
Postlude: “Toccata & Fugue in D minor” - Rev. Jerry Asheim
Special thanks to:
Rev. Kristin Stoneking, Pastor
Rev. Jerry Asheim, Minister of Music
Susan Jardin, Director of Children, Family, and Older Adult Ministries
Orion Lacey, Director of Youth Ministries
Judy Kriege, Worship Vision Team lead
Tai Jokela, Video producer
Ethan Lindsey, Podcast producer