The following is an open letter written by Richard Boger, Crestview’s Clerk of Session, after this month’s session meeting held March 16, 2020:
Last evening your Session met to discuss the evolving situation with the COVID-19 virus. In response, Session voted unanimously to suspend on-site worship services at church for the next two weeks, as well as limit the use of our building for groups and events during that time. Session will meet again on March 30th to reassess the situation and decide how to move forward.
I want to emphasize that the live streaming of the services will continue at 9:30 on Sunday mornings, and you should encourage everyone who is looking for a church connection to join us for that. Additionally, you should be assured that your church staff and leaders are already well into plans for ways we can stay engaged as a congregation during this time of unique challenges.
Since the meeting last night, I’ve been reflecting on our current situation and Crestview’s response, and I’ve been struck by the numerous God Sightings around us. Through His Providence, God has been preparing Crestview for years to serve Him in this moment:
Four years ago, during our pastor search process God made a match between a pastor with “a passion to serve God in a fresh way… and a willingness to take a few risks” and a congregation with “a passion to nurture and serve people inside and outside our walls.” (Underlined emphasis in the original)
Over a year ago, God gave our staff a head start by planting a seed in Shawn’s heart that he and the staff needed to look more intentionally at the way we were engaged in ministry. The staff began a book study that encouraged everyone to consider how Crestview can still be faithful to the Gospel in a highly changing world. When Session walked into their meeting last night to discuss the response to the virus, the staff already had a whiteboard full of ideas on how to continue spreading the Gospel in spite of our current constraints.
In January, God guided Shawn to begin a similar journey with our Session using the same book. For the last three months, Session has been in study together on how to stay true to the Lord’s mission in the face of disruptive change.
About 10 years ago, God put a call in the heart of Peggy Friedhoff to take a leap of faith and start her own business. Over the years God has used Peggy to do some amazing things at the intersection of faith and technology. In times like this, Crestview is benefiting greatly from her experience.
Last year, during the Church budget discussions, God led Session to take a step of faith to invest in our digital outreach capabilities, which has given us tools that let us stay better connected than ever.
Over the last several years, God has been restoring our relationship with the Cincinnati Presbytery, allowing us to take a leadership role in helping other congregations use technology to enable their missions. We are also in a position where our online and streaming resources can be used by our sister congregations who do not have the knowledge or resources to do things themselves.
Last month, God gave us the “gift” of Bill Jackson’s illness. In that event, we saw the seriousness that “routine” respiratory illness can present to the members of our congregation. As a Session, we learned we can manage disruptions to our normal routine, such having our moderator connect electronically to a Session meeting. And last night, when we received the news that Bill was able to return home, we learned that God is faithful through the storm.
Yesterday, God gave us the lightest docket of Session business I’ve ever seen… which gave our leaders plenty of time to pray, discuss, and discern the best path forward for Crestview.
I am sure God is continuing to guide us today and will continue to guide us into the future. Have faith in His promises!
Clerk of Session, Crestview Presbyterian Church