Listening in Lent

We are in this together

by Rev. Rick King

(The following is Rev. Rick King’s column from the Nov. 5 TAB newsletter — before the election winners were called.)

Last week’s column ended with a question: “What will you do the day after the election is decided?”

This week, we begin with a different question: How will you be the day after the election is decided?

Managing our insides is the work of hope and courage, just as co-creating the society we want, where all can thrive. They’re two halves of the same whole, and the goal of a mature spiritual life. They’re also what’s going to help us go forward after this election decision, no matter what the outcome is.

Sometimes it helps to remember what binds us, and what getting along, despite our differences, feels like. Tuesday, I saw and felt that as 10 volunteers and I welcomed voters throughout the day and thanked them for voting.

For me, being outside the church was an important reminder of each person’s humanity, and at least for the day, I could imagine people acting out of their best intentions.

I kept thinking to myself, “I don’t know how any of these people voted, even though I could guess—but I don’t want to know, at least not for today!”

Why? Because after such division and acrimony during the campaign, I was ready for a break. Yes, even me, who is so enthusiastic about having an impact on the Minnesota legislature’s agenda for 2021 and worked hard to try to sway voters toward what is possible.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m excited to start that next chapter, even though, at this writing, final vote-counts aren’t in yet. But the most important thing is to be prepared inwardly to adapt, adjust, and move forward with enthusiasm and courage, knowing that all of us, regardless of political party, are in this together.

Yes, when a new government is finally chosen, we will get ready to dive in and work relentlessly for what we believe God is calling us to be and do as a state and as a nation. But for me, Tuesday outside the church, greeting voters, was a glimpse into what we have in common.

I hope I don’t forget that as I pursue the agenda I’d like to see!

Giving in the time of COVID-19

In the time of COVID-19, giving your volunteer time or sharing tangible goods can be difficult or impossible. However, your community still needs your financial support. Here are some ways to donate that will make a real difference for our church’s mission.

Give to our church

Your generosity matters now more than ever to help Falcon Heights Church fulfill our mission in new ways during this crisis. In addition to checks and electronic funds transfer (EFT), you can also give electronically:

  • By text. Text “Give” to 651-240-6681 (without the quotation marks). You will receive a response with a link to set up your donation and payment information. Select the account where you want the donation to go (plate, pledge, food shelf, etc.) and enter either your bank routing information or credit card number. (In case of a mistake, text “Refund” within 15 minutes to reverse the transaction. To modify your giving account information, text “Edit” to the same number, 651-240-6681.
  • Via our new eGiving portal. Click the “Donate” button above and follow the directions. You will also find donation buttons at the top of the home page and in the footer area at the bottom of each page on our website.

Once you set up your information, your donations are linked to your annual giving statement.

Give to Every Meal (formerly The Sheridan Story)

We’re no longer able to give cereal and snacks to Falcon Heights Elementary students via this program, but you can give money to help feed kids and families.

Give to Holy Hammers-Habitat for Humanity

Our work on this year’s house-building project is done, but your financial donations are still needed. Text your donation or visit the eGiving portal as described above. You will be able to select Holy Hammers-Habitat for Humanity as the recipient of your gift.

Give to the Department of Indian Work food shelf

DIW is no longer able to accept donations of food during the COVID-19 crisis. But it continues to need money to buy food for the people it serves.

You can use the online giving methods above (specify “food shelf” — your donation will go to DIW), or visit the Interfaith Action website HERE. At that site, click the “DONATE” button at the top and follow the instructions on the donation page. You will be able to specify the Department of Indian Work food shelf as the recipient of your gift.

Updated 10/14/20

COVID-19: Where we are now

By Rev. Rick King
July 30, 2020

As we watch COVID-19 case counts surge in Southern states, we’ve been spared the worst of that here in Minnesota, so far. But that only holds as long as we keep wearing masks, physically distancing, getting tested, and monitoring any symptoms.

This is the dangerous period, when we’re all tired of how long this is going on, and are tempted not to wear a mask, just this once, or hug that person, or venture into indoor spaces we wouldn’t have entered even a month ago. God wants us to continue to care for one another in love.

The battle against community spread will be won with unheroic, consistent measures—and above all, caring for each other enough that we practice safety measures for others and not just ourselves. I’m so glad to hear and see that so many of you continue to practice love in these simple ways.

That said, each community and group is feeling its way toward carefully resuming some activities. At Falcon Heights Church, we’ve had parking lot gatherings, and recently, I polled our two Bible study groups about members’ openness to an outdoor, masked, physically-distanced gathering of 10 people or fewer. On Aug. 2, we’re holding an in-person, physically-distanced, drive-in or lawn chair Communion service in our parking lot (details in this week’s TAB). We’re hosting a concert in the parking lot Aug. 9.

Safety guidelines

We’re emphasizing the following safety guidelines:

  • All participants use face coverings. Wear a mask or meet your maker.
  • Participants (individuals or family groups) maintain 6-foot social distancing at all times.
  • If participants are staying in vehicles, the vehicles need to be parked 6 feet apart.
    If participants wish to sit outside, they must provide their own chairs and maintain distance.
  • No materials, food, or beverages will be shared.
  • The church building will remain closed, including restrooms (go before you arrive).
  • Hand sanitizer will be available for those wishing to use it.

But all of these are experiments done on a one-time basis—to see how we can practice safety procedures and be in healthy community, in person, and gain information that helps us plan for the future amid the remaining uncertainty. We’ll also continue to be a polling place in the Aug. 11 primary and the Nov. 3 general elections, and so our custodial service will resume cleaning our building the first week of August in preparation for the primary.

Not reopening yet

None of this means we’re reopening. Our church continues to do well meeting virtually, and our church’s COVID-19 Response Team and I have gotten no feedback from any of you, pushing us to reopen. So, although we’re doing some more in-person events, it’s not a trend; we don’t have a building-opening or in-person gathering date yet. Until Minnesota gets the spread under control, we can make plans for these things but not implement them.

Remember: We care for each other and our wider communities of which we are a part. We are good neighbors, and we have a responsibility to those whose lives are linked with ours. Our Stillspeaking God says so!

Church building remains closed for now

The Falcon Heights Church building will remain closed until specific safety benchmarks can be met in the church and the wider community.

Earlier this month, the Executive Board endorsed the report from a COVID-19 Short-Term Working Group that incorporates three principles:

  • Our responsibility as a Christian community to care for one another
  • Recognition of churches’ role as “superspreaders” of the pandemic
  • Adoption of new language that more accurately reflects our situation, i.e., replacing “reopening/resuming/back to normal” with “adapting/beginning/new normal.”

In line with those principles, “the Board will only consider opening or gathering when official approval and guidelines are issued along with dates for a staged reopening of Minnesota churches, robust community testing, contact tracing and vaccine availability.”

However, our church remains live and well, and we continue to seek new ways to carry out Christ’s ministry in our community and our world. If we can’t be in the building, we have outdoor spaces we can use and share with our neighbors. We will also continue to use and, we hope, expand our use of online platforms such as Zoom and Facebook Premiere. In fact, we want to encourage entrepreneurs in the congregation to initiate new online small-group gatherings and activities. The working group’s report includes a Google Docs spreadsheet for sharing ideas.