From the Pastor….

The last time we held an indoor worship service at Parkway was on March 15, 2020. This was shortly after the first deaths from Covid 19 were reported in the United States, when we were just beginning to understand the impact that this pandemic was going to have on all of our lives. In the year since, there have been over 500,000 deaths in the United States, far exceeding any other country – and accounting for more than a fifth of the nearly 2.5 million dead worldwide, despite our country having less than 5 percent of the global population. (Brazil has less than half that toll, with under 250,000, while Mexico ranks third with 180,000.)

There are many reasons for the disproportionate effect on one of the most affluent countries with one of the most advanced medical systems in the world. However, undisputedly, one of the contributing factors has been infections transmitted at indoor worship services, especially in churches where protocols such as social distancing and mask wearing were not enforced. The cause of Christ in our country has been immeasurably damaged by the insistence of some Christians on exercising their religious freedom with disregard for the dangers they impose on the rest of our citizens. The perception of Christians as self-serving individuals, intent only on having their way has been underscored once again.

I am grateful that, with very few exceptions, the members  of our family of faith have been understanding and supportive of our attempts not to be part of the spread of Covid 19. I am even more grateful that you have committed yourselves so faithfully to maintaining both your personal spiritual growth and your connection with your Parkway family by adjusting to our new means of fellowship and worship. 

Between those who brave the weather to join us for in-person worship each Sunday in the parking lot and those who utilize the virtual worship material, your attendance has been outstanding. The number who attend our Wednesday night Zoom prayer service has exceeded my wildest expectations. Deacons are continuing to stay in touch with their flocks, staff members are ensuring that programs run smoothly, and the missions committee is leading us in generous projects for our community. Although our giving has declined – partially due to the economic difficulties some of you may be facing – we have been able to pay all of our bills. 

In short, you are doing the best you can in difficult circumstances, and I appreciate it.

Due to the high percentage of our members in the first group eligible for the vaccine, the risk of infection for many of us and the chances of infecting someone else are in sharp decline. As more of us become vaccinated, that risk becomes even less.

Unfortunately, however, according to medical experts, it is still going to be a number of months before it is safe to resume indoor worship, especially for churches like ours where maintaining a safe distance from one another is difficult. So for the foreseeable future I want you to know that you can expect activities to be much as they have been since we started outdoor worship in October. We will continue to have worship in the parking lot each Sunday, weather permitting. We will send out material for Morning Worship and The Beginning each weekend, and, even when we return to indoor worship, we will always do so until it is safe for everyone to return. We will have the Midweek Prayer Service and committee meetings via Zoom. Sunday School classes will keep determining the best way for their group to meet each week. I hate to say it, but, for now, this is our “normal.”

The one unchanging truth throughout this past year has been God’s unfailing love and care for each of us. This is what we celebrate together each week, and this is what keeps us going, even under difficult circumstances. Thanks be to God!