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  • Writer's picturePastor Bruce

Newsletter October, 2020 - First Presbyterian Ridgewood, NJ

Updated: Dec 28, 2020


Dear Friends, I believe worshiping God is the most important thing we do as Christians. It is in worship that we center our lives before God, offer praise and thanksgiving, listen as God’s Word is read and proclaimed, offer our prayers and our gifts to support God’s work through the church. It is in worship that God sustains and strengthens us, continues the good work of shaping and reshaping us into the people God would have us be, and enables us to live as God would have us live between Sundays.

The opening paragraph of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Directory for Worship has this to say: “Christian worship gives all glory and honor, praise and thanksgiving to the holy, triune God. We are gathered in worship to glorify the God who is present and active among us - particularly through the gifts of Word and Sacrament. We are sent out in service to glorify the same God who is present and active in the world.” [W-1.0101]

Unfortunately, since mid-March, we have been prevented from fully experiencing the “We are gathered …” part of that statement. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the need to avoid large gatherings of people, worship moved out of the sanctuary and online on March 15. For two Sundays, we live-streamed the service. Then we moved to prerecorded services for 17 weeks, before returning to a combination of in-person and live-stream worship on Sunday, July 26.

Through all these transitions, I believe God’s Spirit has not only led us, but held us together - even when we haven’t been able to fully gather in person. For that, I am extremely grateful!

I’m also grateful to music staff members Ed Schmiedecke, Carol Schmiedecke and Linda Sweetman Waters; to Emma Schmiedecke (cello), to Christopher Vehmas (piano); and to section leaders Mike Schuil and Vera Coleman for their creativity and versatility in providing music for the pre-recorded, live-stream and in-person services. Just as I am grateful to Jessica Strader for her initiative, technical skill and creativity in helping us to move online and develop a greater online presence; to Sami Eliya for his tireless work to implement and improve our live-stream capability; and to Dave Ciccolella for producing the Sunday morning video broadcasts over YouTube. Grateful also to MaryEllen Castaldo for her Facebook Sunday School videos and to Dana Feeney for keeping us connected through communications from the office.

And while I’m expressing gratitude, I must also say a big “thank you” to members of the Re-Entry Task Force, who developed and implemented Weekday Prayers during the summer and who worked to develop our protocol for a safe return to the sanctuary: Joan Davies, Carola Di Iorio, Donna Flagg, Anita Hutton and Sandy Santangelo.

A number of you have said how happy you are to be able to return to the sanctuary for worship. And a number of you have indicated that you’re not ready to return, but have expressed your appreciation for the live-stream option. We are very pleased to be able to offer both! And we hope whichever option makes sense for you that you will continue to join us each Sunday as we worship God together!

Finally, I’m pleased to announce that we will offer an outdoor worship service at 5:00 p.m. Saturday, October 17. Music by Brian Princing. Watch your email for additional details!

Forward in faith, Bruce

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