Dear Friends and Members of Resurrection,
The diagnosis of President Trump and First Lady Melania with COVID-19 was a grim reminder that this coronavirus draws no distinction between rich and poor or powerful and weak. The First Lady had mild symptoms. President Trump had to be hospitalized. He has had the benefit of the best healthcare possible. Not all those afflicted with COVID-19 have been so blessed. In fact, a disproportionate share of the poor and people of color have suffered the consequences of the coronavirus. We pray for full recovery of President Trump, Melania, and all afflicted with COVID-19. Our hearts go out especially to those who have lost loved ones to this deadly virus.
The affliction of the President and so many in his administration with COVID-19 has been a reminder in a negative way of what can happen when we do not follow what Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), refers to as the three “W’s”: Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Watch your distance. A couple of days ago on CNN Christopher Murray of the University of Washington said that their COVID-19 model is forecasting another 200,000 deaths by the end of the year. When asked what could be done to lower that number, the first thing he said was “Wear a mask.” Right now just under 50% of the populace is following the guidance on when to wear masks. If 95% of Americans would follow the guidelines on mask-wearing, 86,000 lives would be saved in the next three months. Wearing a mask seems like such a small sacrifice to save so many lives.
Some were hoping that the President’s bout with the coronavirus would serve as a wake-up call for him. So far that does not seem to be the case. We may wish that he would take the lead in calling for a comprehensive, effective strategy to address the pandemic we are mired in. We may wish that he would at least consistently wear a mask. But we have to deal with the actual President before us. No matter what happens in the Presidential election, he will be the President for these next three months when 200,000 more people are predicted to die of COVID-19 in our nation. We may grow weary in doing what we need to do when so many around us are not. But the irresponsibility of those around us does not excuse us from doing the right thing. At the very least we can wear a mask, wash our hands, and watch our distance. Lives are depending on it.
Until we work together, listen to the advice of the scientists and take this pandemic seriously, we will be unable to return to anything like “life as normal”. The Wisconsin Council of Churches and the Greater Milwaukee Synod recommend that virtual worship in congregations continue as the norm at least until the middle of November. We miss one another. We miss gathering in person for worship. However, we are called by Jesus to do what is best for the most vulnerable among us. We are able to praise God and pray together even while being physically distanced. Please do what you are able to contain this virus. This is not about political affiliation, but about loving your neighbor as you love yourself.
Dear friends and members of RLC,
“We've come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord;
trusting in his holy word, he's never failed us yet.
Oh, can't turn around, we've come this far by faith.”
These words from the hymn, We've Come This Far by Faith, are a reminder to us to keep moving forward, trusting the One who has walked with us every day leading up to this moment.
We never expected the changes that the past year has brought. We members of Resurrection who gathered for Lenten evening prayer on March 11, had no idea that it would be many months before we were able to gather again for in-person worship. Children who began virtual school did not know that it would last through the academic year and play a vital role for many in this present academic year. Jobs that were suspended have ended for many. Visits with friends and relatives have been put on hold.
And yet, here we are; we have come this far by faith. God has not failed us; in fact, many of us have seen signs of God's presence even in the midst of difficult days. And together, we have been able to bear witness to God's never-failing generosity and love.
In past years, we have gathered as a community in October for Harvest Sunday. On that day, we placed gifts intended for our outreach and partner ministries into a wheelbarrow as an act of worship and a celebration of our abundant “harvest” of abundance. Afterward, we gathered for Harvest Faire: a celebration of being together in ministry, with food and games for all!
We will miss being together this October, but the ministries that the funds generously donated that day support continue. And so, this year, we are asking you to again give generously as you are able to the outreach and partner ministries of RLC.
In our neighborhood, we support Hales Corners-based Journeys Lutheran School (formerly Lutheran Special School), a ministry that provides a caring, quality education to children from across the city who have learning challenges. We also support the New Berlin food pantry: a place that provides food to those within New Berlin and Waukesha county who are in need.
City-wide, we support Divine Intervention Ministries, located in the Bay View neighborhood. In the past, this ministry provided overnight shelter and a hot meal to those who were homeless. Because of the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic preventing the overnight shelter from operating, this ministry is finding new ways of caring for those without homes. Hot meals are being handed out every Saturday afternoon in a program called “Hungry Hearts.” These meals are purchased each week from three small local restaurants, and so hungry people are fed and local businesses are supported. Watch next week for an eblast outlining specific needs of Divine Intervention for the homeless being served this winter, along with the date and time you can safely drop your donations at RLC..
Another city-wide ministry we support through our support of the Greater Milwaukee Synod (GMS) is Outreach for Hope, a ministry of the GMS that supports seventeen urban ministries within the boundaries of our Synod. One of these ministries is Reformation, a long-time partner of RLC, with whom we have participated in the “R&R Team” raising funds in the annual Outreach for Hope Bike Ride through a joint team in the past. Other supported urban ministries are throughout the city of Milwaukee,Racine and Kenosha.
World-wide, we continue in partnership with Kikwe and Kaarangai parishes in the Meru Diocese of Tanzania. We offer prayers for one another each month, buy coffee to support fair wages for coffee farmers, provide funds that the pastors can use to care for the needs of their parishioners, including the children’s school fees. We hope for the day when we can again visit one another, person-to-person.
We are asking that you prayerfully consider making a donation to these partner ministries of RLCYou will receive a mailing in early November asking for financial donations for outreach work. Our hope is that we will be able to gather on November 15 to worship and make these donations in person, utilizing technology enhancements in the works that would allow us spread out throughout the building. For those of you who do not feel comfortable returning to in-person worship,, RLC’s worship service will continue to be available online through our website on Sunday mornings.
When you receive the appeal mailing, you will also receive stewardship forms requesting your 2021 commitments of time, talent and money. While we are aware that there is still much uncertainty about what the upcoming year will bring, we are asking that you make these pledge commitments from a place of faith. We have come this far by faith; God has never failed us yet. Our council is planning ahead and your commitment forms will help us do that responsibly.
We have been tremendously blessed as a faith community by the steadfastness of your ongoing support, allowing us to have an oversized impact in our neighborhood, city and world through our outreach and partners.
This is no time to turn around and try to return to where we have come from. This is a time to look forward and to step out in faith, trusting that God, who calls us to ministry, will provide what we need to do that ministry.
It is my honor to walk with you in faith and in love,
The Rev. Dr. Mary Ubuntu is the spiritual leader of Resurrection Lutheran Church and has served in that capacity since 2003. More on Pastor Mary can be found HERE.