A look back after a year of pandemic to see what God has done at Kenilworth Union, which despite countless changes in the world, is still the church it has always been.
The doors to our sanctuary have been shut for a lot longer than we would have wished, but at no point has the church been closed. What we discovered in this last year is that Kenilworth Union is still the church it’s always been. Let’s look at what God’s been doing with us and among us during this past year.
Online worship for instance has been growing both in attendance and in ambition. March 7, we had 400 screens tuned in to our worship service and if there’s one and a half or two people tuned in to every screen, that means our worship attendance is 500, 600, 700 people–a lot more than we’d have had if we were here together. New cameras in the sanctuary which have improved the visual experience. HVAC units for fresh air.
We worshiped outside in the Memorial Garden this summer and deep into the fall. Outdoors on the front porch on Christmas Eve. where it was a little cold, subfreezing, but God blessed us with this enchanting snowfall and we sang Silent Night. Silent Night had to be sung, and we sang it.
Sunday school program moved outdoors and online. Kids continued to learn about Jesus despite all the social distancing. I think our Christmas pageant was the best we have ever had–we had a camel, we had a donkey, we had sheep, we had shepherds, we had Magi, we had Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
Youth Ministry has found creative ways to continue to learn about their faith, they’re going to Tulsa, Oklahoma this summer.
When Jo Forrest left to take a wonderful call in Pittsburgh, and Katie Lancaster went on sabbatical, our congregational care and Stephen Ministries stepped up in extraordinary ways to care for congregation members who have lost a loved one, or were facing serious illness or maybe just welcomed a baby into the family.
Lisa Bond found extraordinary ways to worship God with music. She was creative not just in artistic ways but in technical ways, not just in content but also in presentation. Thank you, Lisa, and our brave choristers.
You welcomed Doogie and me into your homes via my fireside chats, and many of those chats I talk to important congregation members, and I like to think that in these chats, you learned more about our ministry than you would have learned otherwise if we were here together on campus. And you got to watch Doogie grow up from the five month-old, twenty pound puppy that he was a year ago into the 85-pound beast he is today.
While the nation was wrestling with racial conflict, our Racial Justice Commission taught us how to be better allies to people who are different from us through classes and book discussion.
The Green Team taught us to live more sustainable lifestyles and even managed to purchase solar power from solar panel farms in Northern Illinois to power this building, not only to reduce our carbon footprint but also to save some money.
A Joyful Noise Preschool opened on schedule last fall, and spent this entire school year learning safely in our roomy, expansive space, and so the kids are learning to be good citizens and neighbors, all through this process.
Your generosity never paused for an instant in this challenging year. We had to suspend our Outreach Benefit last year, but still managed to raise $200,000. We’re going to have to do the same thing this April. Watch for a letter in your box.
We think our stewardship campaign is going to meet or exceed our goal for this year, so thank you, thank you, thank you for continuing your generous support for your church, even though you can’t visit your church. All of these, good things.
So the world has indeed changed a lot since last March 12, 2020, and it may not be the same again for a long time, it may never be the same. But during this challenging year, one thing we did discover at Kenilworth Union Church is that we are still the church we’ve always been. We’re trying very hard to be faithful to God’s mission. So God bless you all. I will see you soon.