Updates from the RRC Staff

 
Staff meeting pre-C19 – we were so young and innocent!
Staff meeting now – complete with barking dogs and noisy kids!
Staff Email
 

Note from Tim 2020-08-14

As I write this note, I am on our back deck with 3 ruby-throated hummingbirds glistening in the sun, dancing, and bobbing around our feeder and flowers. It’s a great time of year as many of us are making our last vacation forays into God’s stunning creation. Our in-person worship gatherings have gone well and it’s great to see you! As school soon begins, and we are more home, and coming back to worship, we will consider hosting two services to accommodate the distancing.
 
A few things to note for the fall… Mark your calendars and join us for a grand SeptemberFest fall kickoff on September 13. Our outdoor worship gathering will include welcoming new members, professions of faith, immersion baptisms, lunch, and more. The difficulties of meeting in large groups leads us into a wonderful opportunity to accelerate the implementation of our Vision 2028 for a “gospel-centered pathway that trains us for organic outreach.” The corporate, full-house, boisterous worship that we loved will not be restored in the near-term. BUT, God’s purposes and mission for us can flourish more than ever.

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Note from Emillie 2020-07-25

Connecting people is a very important part of my role at Rockford Reformed Church both in my job as the Kids Hope Director and in my volunteer role as part of the Hospitality Team. I love when people connect because there is such amazing potential for good in positive God-centered relationships. As the Kids Hope Director, I have been blessed to facilitate relationships by connecting mentors from our church and children from Valley View Elementary School. As a part of the Hospitality Team, I am a part of creating an opportunity for members and visitors to connect to volunteers and each other over coffee and cookies in a comfortable and inviting environment. During this unique time of quarantine, social distance, distant learning, and Covid-19, I feel a little displaced in both roles. I miss seeing people and connecting with people and I am struggling with what this looks like for this Fall. I know I am not alone in feeling unsettled at this time. These passages have brought hope and joy for me these last months. I pray they will for you too. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” Isaiah 41:10. “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

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Note from Tim 2020-07-22

We have returned from Iowa after time with my family and my father’s funeral. It was an exhausting and yet encouraging week. The loss is felt as I find myself wanting to call him every day. These days have freshly revealed the vital importance of the community of fellow believers. Your messages, texts, cards, emails, expressions of love, and countless prayers lifted up on our behalf have been a great encouragement. Maniac Darryl and Marie showed up at the family visitation! Thank you. We are grateful for all of you. And then as Ruth and I left for home, it became clear that my mother and family would be well cared for as extended family, friends, and the church community had been wonderfully gathering around for support. God’s commands for our investment in fellowship and deep relationships in which we care, pray, love, encourage, and bear one another’s burdens wonderfully make sense during times like these.

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Note from Brian 2020-07-20

I wanted to take a moment to update you on how things are going within the youth ministry. Like most things, Covid-19 has turned our world upside down. We have had to clear our summer calendar as a precaution. Personally I am grieving the time lost from being with students and walking alongside them. As a result of all of this myself and the ministry team have been learning to do things differently, relying more on personal outreach rather than a program.
 
The stay home order has revealed a lot about my faith and my ability to disciple. I’ve been shown areas I need to grow and learn in order to be a more effective leader. While these restrictions make things difficult, this shutdown is resulting in a lot of great conversations about how youth ministry can be done. I am not sure what the next few months will look like in terms of activity but I am excited for the ways I am learning to more effectively disciple our youth. These conversations and research revolve around how we can become better equippers. I’ve been exploring a model that helps youth to teach and lead each other, and it brings me a lot of hope for how it can serve our church.
 
As these conversations are ongoing we are working on getting some outdoor get togethers planned. Things like bonfires that help us connect but allow for wisdom with social distancing. Please join me in continuing to pray for our youth.


Note from Tim 2020-07-11

Here are some thoughts and good news in the midst of the corona madness… Many of us are struggling with being constrained into painful adjustments and losses from this relentless, obstinate pandemic. Our schools, teachers, administrators, business, medical, and government leaders and employees are under siege with major decisions and modifications in a constantly changing environment and divided culture. These adjustments, losses, decisions, and modifications—especially relating to worship—are imposed on the church as well. It’s a test for us. Can we, with all of our widely divergent experiences and opinions, work and worship together with love, grace, and unity? And while there is a temptation to default into a comfortable float down the easy river that revolves around self, family, and a few friends, will we value Jesus and his mission enough to get vitally connected to our church family, spiritually grow, and find ways to reach out to those in need? Are we willing to make adjustments when the corporate worship and kids’ ministries that we so enjoyed are radically altered or disengaged?

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Note from Tim 2020-06-19

Just a quick update for us all today… First, I am grateful as last Sunday’s worship went very well and it was so good to see many of you for the first time in a few months. It was a beautiful and encouraging day. As it relates to gathering for worship for at least the next few weeks, since it is the safest way, we will continue to meet outdoors, as weather permits. We are learning along the way and will make adjustments to how we gather—perhaps changing the gathering spot to a place with shade—and Laura will provide those details at least by Saturday each week. When there is some likelihood/forecast for rain/thunderstorms (such as there is for this Sunday), we will work to communicate (via email) our decision regarding whether we will meet by 7:30 AM on Sunday morning. If we do not meet because of weather, we will still provide an online service so that everyone can “join together” for worship in this way.
 
Beginning this Sunday, we will livestream our worship so that if you are unable to be physically with us, you can still have a much better sense of being with us in spirit. And then for those unable to join the livestream at that time, a recording of that same worship service will be available online thereafter. For this Sunday, we are prepared to distribute a pre-recorded worship service with music and sermon if the livestream is somehow unsuccessful.

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Note from Beth 2020-06-13

Dear Parents of KidLife students (birth through 5th grade) – I have been dreading writing this letter for quite some time. Those who know me, know that working with kids is my passion. These past couple months have been hard, leading KidLife online without the presence of children before my eyes is just not the same as in-person connection. I miss each and every one of the kids. As we begin to resume church at the building, we will not be having KidLife in person. No nursery or worship during the service. This may come to you and you were prepared for this, you have been practicing as a family on worshipping together. I also know that this may come to some and you are shocked and maybe are unsure of what worshipping as a family might look like for you. I found a great article (the blog is great too) that has some helpful information – strategies for worshipping with your kids.

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Note from Tim 2020-06-12

A few things to communicate again this week. First of all, yes, we are on for physically gathering as a church family together on this Sunday for the first time since March 8! I am dazed with the challenges of leading through the range and pace of events that have erupted through these 3 months. Not one of us escapes the tests and adjustments of this season. And so, it will be refreshing to sing and worship our faithful Lord, Savior, and Rock, and to just see and be with our church family. The phase-in and worship teams have been diligently working to organize and plan for this outdoor gathering so that we can do so with good confidence in its safety for everyone. We ask that you please bring your own chairs. For added safety, you will be able to stay in your vehicle if you choose, and if helpful, listen on your radio. The forecast calls for a beautiful morning and a letter with the details about how we can safely gather will be sent tomorrow (Saturday).
 
Getting back to corporate worship will be a process as some perhaps should not come for their own or others’ safety. And some will not consider it to be safe yet. So, we will indefinitely provide a video for online worship in addition to our in-person gatherings. For this and perhaps next weekend, this means that we will separately record a service in the sanctuary. Thereafter, we hope to provide a quality live-stream of our service—out or indoors—and then make that available online for later viewing as well. Note as well that beginning this Sunday, we will suspend the Zoom sermon discussion and fellowship.

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Note from Tim 2020-06-02

Yay! Soon after I began to compose this letter, the governor’s orders for shelter-in-place have relaxed again. Thanks be to God for the progress! After the work of the phase-in team and consistory last week, and now in light of the most recent governor’s orders, we are evaluating and moving toward a first worship gathering outdoors at RRC—potentially as early as June 14 (weather permitting). When we meet, it won’t be the same as the old, but it will be a great start! More details will be forthcoming as the team will distribute instructions to guide us as we meet. The phase-in team will also soon distribute a survey to get better informed as they continue to develop plans for how to most effectively and safely gather for worship in the weeks and months ahead. Our plans include continuing to provide a video recording of our worship each week.
 
As I noted in Sunday morning’s invitation to prayer, George Floyd’s tragic death and protests and riots are disturbing, disheartening, and grievous. The most common and encouraging responses that I have been hearing and resonating with are “What can I do?” or “How can I be a part of the change?” One of my greatest challenges for knowing how to respond is my inability to understand, empathize, and thus act with love. I need help with multiple blind and not-so-blind spots for my daily repentance and heart work. As I connected with Stephanie Bergman, it was apparent, as a mom of a black son, that these events are especially troubling. And she has been working for some time to become better equipped to understand the struggles that people of color will face. So, I invited her to develop a letter that would share her perspective and some of the resources that have been helpful for her (I apologize as I should have made this clear before her letter was distributed in a RRC email).

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Note from Tim 2020-05-20

Let me provide you with another update for your information and prayers… Our phase-in team met via Zoom again last night to develop a list of recommendations for how we can get back to safely worshiping together in the same place again. And then our consistory will gather via Zoom tomorrow evening to discuss/approve these guidelines. The when and how of our worship gatherings depend on the constantly evolving state/local guidelines and so it’s not yet reasonable for us to project what our first gathering date might be and what it will look like. We will keep you informed as soon as we are able to take a good next step.
 
On this coming Sunday, I will preach on an important topic relating to reopening and all of the struggles and differences that are increasingly evident during these times. At a time when our community/nation would greatly benefit from rallying together, there is division, polarization, and differences around politics, an election, reopening, jobs, the economy, and much more. There is further struggle in the church when some view government authority differently, some are cautious, and others are ready to just meet and get back to the old normal. We will see how 1 Corinthians 8, the gospel, and God’s Word guide us toward “grace for the differences.” I encourage you not to miss this one.

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