Gardenside Chat with Bill Evertsberg
September 23, 2020

Bill shares his feelings on the new 10:30 a.m. Worship in The Sanctuary and other opportunities for worship on Sundays at Kenilworth Union.

Kenilworth Union Triple Pivot

Hi friends, my name is Bill Evertsberg and I’m one of the ministers at Kenilworth Union Church, and this is Doogie, our WalMart greeter at Kenilworth Union. If you have any occasion to visit the church I can guarantee you that you will be warmly and wetly welcomed.

One of the reasons I love working at Kenilworth Union is that the New Trier Township has a wonderful clergy group. We have a wonderful meeting once a month over lunch for all the priests and rabbis and ministers in Wilmette and Kenilworth, and Winnetka, Glencoe and Northfield, and as I’ve said we meet once a month for lunch.

We met last Thursday and it was an underattended meeting, I think because it was a Zoom meeting and people are getting sick of Zoom. We have 42 clergy and 17 congregations on our mailing list, but only five of us showed up, so it was underattended.

But I was surprised that in that very small sample of five congregations on the North Shore, Kenilworth Union Church is the only church that is planning a resumption of on-campus physical worship. All these other churches, of course, are worshiping outdoors and/or virtually, but none of them have any plans to resume physical on-campus worship. One minister said that he doesn’t think that will happen at his congregation until Easter of 2021, and I understand this decision.

I was ambivalent about resuming on-campus worship for us, too. I wondered if it would be safe. I wondered what it would be like to have an entirely masked congregation. I knew I would miss the hymns and the corporate prayers. I knew I would hate preaching from my penalty box. And I wondered what it would be like to hear a soloist who is not only singing from her penalty box, but also wearing a mask.

So I wondered about all of that, but I’m so glad we decided to come back together this past Sunday, September 20, Homecoming Sunday. We had three worship services and we came back together again on campus and it was just magical.

At our 8:30 Outdoor Worship service, God cooperated, giving us an absolutely perfect Sunday morning on the last day of summer, and as you can see, you know, these walls of our Memorial Garden, it almost looks as if this garden were constructed as an outdoor worship space. So it was just wonderful.

So that’s at 8:30 outdoors, then at 9:30 we do our virtual worship service. You can worship the Lord with us from your living rooms or wherever you are, and the technology worked wonderfully this past Sunday and Lisa and her creative musicians were just stunning. We keep wondering what they’re going to think of next. And so, it was really a wonderful service at 9:30 online.

And then at 10:30 of course we were back here in our sanctuary. It was so wonderful to be worshiping again in our sacred, beautiful space, and it was so wonderful to see so many of you after so many months. There were only about 40 or 50 of us here, but Evelyn sang the hymns on our behalf, and she was so magnificent on this solo called “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.” And Susan’s organ is so much more impressive live than it is on a recording.

You know, it’s not what it was, and it’s not what it will be again—I have to be in my penalty box—it’s not what it was and it’s not what it will be again, but it works. It’s just fine.

And I’m so proud of my hardworking staff that they’re working hard enough to give you three options for worship on Sunday morning. You can worship indoors, you can worship outdoors, or you can worship at your place.

Now, have you noticed that in this weird country at this odd time, face masks have become a political symbol? If you are anti-mask, you are more likely to be a red person; if you are pro-mask, you are more likely to be a blue person.

And the same thing has happened with church attendance. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but church attendance is a political symbol. If you want congregations to rush back to physical, on-campus worship together, you are probably an evangelical Christian. And if you are perfectly happy with remote worship, and really don’t want these large assemblies to come back together again any time soon, well then you are probably a mainline Christian or a progressive Christian.

But here at Kenilworth Union, we don’t think you should have to self-identify. We don’t think you should have to choose. So we’ll give you these three options and we’ll let you make the choice yourself.

Did you know that seven million people watch “The Masked Singer” every Wednesday night on Fox tv? Seven million people. We have a masked singer. And she sings better music and there are no commercials. So join us.

God bless you.

September 23, 2020

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