Regional Meeting Updates
In May, the district board hosted another round of regional meetings via Zoom. This time we invited all the pastors and board members of our congregations to attend. In advance, we solicited questions, so we could address issues that are on your minds. Thanks to those who submitted questions. We were able to discuss all the questions at the meetings. (For the purposes of space in this print version, some questions have been altered or combined.) The EDEB truly values the partnership we have with our congregations. We hope you will continue to participate in these meetings as we share the blessings and challenges of our ministry!
- Can the EDEB help churches with the constant issues relating to what to do or not do during times of COVID? Are there any words of advice on how to handle the challenges when boards, congregants and pastors don’t necessarily agree?
COVID has played out so differently in different places across our district. Our congregations have had varied responses and different needs. The constant is how challenging this has been for everyone and how each congregation has tried to respond faithfully. While we aren’t able to provide much substantive guidance on protocols to be used across our geographic area, we are certainly here to support you. The district board members are available to speak with you and help you strategize. In the case of conflict, our district staff is available to you. Sister Marie Couts and Sister Cynthia Rader Geyer are helpful resources to deal with conflict that has arisen because of COVID. Cynthia has a workshop on civility which I believe is needed in many places right now. Please call on us. We will look at the situation on a case-by-case basis and try to help you through it.
- What are your thoughts on reengaging past regulars who seem to have not returned in-person or when to assume that they are not returning.
First, remember that individual’s comfort at returning to church worship/activities will differ from person to person so there is no timeline to measure re-engagement. The greatest need in congregational post-pandemic life is the need for community. Isolation, real or perceived, caused by distancing, mask-wearing and loss of social gatherings has caused feelings of loneliness. Therefore, regular contacts with those who have not returned and live-streaming and/or zoom worship should continue. To re-engage members, seek to develop events that build a sense of togetherness/community – in safe surroundings – publicizing all safety precautions that will be in place. Studies have shown that what is most needed in this post-pandemic time is not programs and studies, but rather, community, together-building opportunities. Covid forced us to adapt. Post-covid is the time to take what we have adapted and be innovative as we go forward! Here is a book on Post-Pandemic church : “Being the Church in a Post-Pandemic World” – Kay Kotan
- What is the role of the EDEB? What is the role of the regional representatives?
According to a quick synopsis of the Book of Order, the EDEB is to act as the executive board of the district synod in the intersynodal period. The EDEB is to supervise pastoral changes, care for all the ministers and congregations of the district, explore and oversee new ministries, care for the institutions and agencies of the district, work in conjunction with the PEC, report to district and provincial synods, determine the number of lay delegates to be elected to district synods, uphold the doctrine, discipline, ritual, and worship of the Church, and promote the distinctive features of the Moravian Church by emphasis upon its history, customs, music, hymnody, liturgies, and teachings.
The regional representatives are the link between congregations and the district board. To the best of their ability, they will visit and communicate with the congregations in their region and offer themselves in a supportive role. They also take an active role in providing information, helping to mediate conflict, and assisting with the call process.
- Our congregation is currently without a pastor. In the EDEB’s mind, what is the minimum amount of years before a pastor should be at their current congregation before being available for call?
Ideally, the EDEB feels that a pastor should remain in their call for a minimum of 3-5 years before being presented with a new call to consider. Of course, there are many extenuating circumstances relating to congregational situations and life circumstances for clergy and their families that alter this timeframe.
- Are congregations in the Northern Province able to call pastors from the Southern Province?
Yes. The provinces work together closely to make names available whenever possible. If the EDEB wants to add a pastor from the Southern Province (or another district in the Northern Province) to a call slate, we seek permission to do so.
- If the financial situation of the Eastern District does not improve, ceteris paribus, when will we run out of money to support our ministries and activities?
In order to answer this, Brenda Cahill (provincial controller), did some calculations that require us to make several unrealistic assumptions (no change in income, no change in expenses, and no repurposing of other funds). Simply based on the previous year’s fund balance and total expenses, we could function for 10 ¾ years.
- Please explain why churches without a pastor are still assessed the pastor health insurance costs.
In order to manage our healthcare costs in our small system, we share the burden across congregations. This is an example of a policy that goes directly to our Moravian roots and our core value of equity. When a congregation is between calls, they continue to pay their current healthcare rate for 12 months, or until a new pastor is called. After 12 months, they no longer pay the healthcare cost. Our provincial Human Resources and Benefits Commission works hard to keep these costs at a minimum, and policies are adjusted over time to address the financial realities and concerns of our congregations. For example, congregations with part-time pastors now only pay the healthcare costs based on their pastor’s percentage of service. Meanwhile, the pastor receives the full benefit.
- By sending out the District Developments to all congregational board members, the district is taking a step in the right direction towards better communication. What are the future plans of the EDEB toward communicating better with congregations?
The EDEB is open to any suggestions from congregations as to how we can communicate more effectively. Please let us know your ideas. For now we are committed to hosting regional meetings with varying congregation members in order to learn what is helpful and what is needed. From these meetings, we have tried to be responsive by offering information and opportunities that are requested. An example of this is our recent set of Growing Young workshops, in direct response to hearing the concern about the lack of youth and young adults within our congregations. In addition, you will learn more about what is happening on the new Northern Province Facebook page (please like the page if you haven’t already!) Please reach out to your regional rep or to the district president with any suggestions or concerns.
Celebrating the Ministry of the Reading Moravian Center
from The Rev. Ron Rice…
In his poem, “Do Not Go Gently Into the Good Night”, Dylan Thomas encourages us to face death with dignity. Reading Moravian Church has done that. About five years ago when faced with severe financial difficulty, the Joint Board and Church Council vowed to serve its community until our church died. With the help of the Northern Province, the Eastern District, and the Lititz Moravian Congregation, Reading Moravian Church dissolved and became Reading Moravian Center, an outreach ministry of the Lititz Moravian Congregation. With the help of volunteers from Lititz, Reading Moravian Center served the community. Worship was provided every week and a food ministry provided food for 140 families every month. Also provided was a monthly free community dinner feeding about 120 people. Then came Covid 19. The food ministry was not needed because many places were providing food and individuals were receiving financial help from the government. Worship suffered because we could not gather. We managed to get through those difficult years, however, it took a toll on the ministry. At a gathering of the people remaining, a decision was made to end our ministry with dignity. Several members shared their thoughts that we should go into the world and share what we learned at Reading with others. At our last worship service on May 1st, we ended Reading Moravian Center with a flourish. With 91 people attending worship, a 13-member brass choir (with help from the Lititz Trombone choir) led the “big parade.” Special music was provided by our church choir and a member and her two children treated us with violin and cello music. Representatives from the Eastern District, the Lititz Congregation and Reading members shared their memories and feelings. The service was followed by a lunch at a local restaurant. We went into the good night with dignity remembering what we had done in that community over those 100+ years. We left thankful for what had been and hopeful for what will come.
Update . . .
The sale of the Reading Church building is now complete, and the buyer is Northeast Child Care Center. This day care nested within the church building for many years will now continue its ministry to the children and families surrounding 1116 Perry Street. This is one more way that Reading Moravian’s legacy will live on in the community it has served so faithfully.
Mission Camps are now happening in three of our Moravian Conference Centers, and you should consider taking part!
In the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Laurel Ridge has been conducting Mission Camps for over ten years in cooperation with the Board of World Mission. They offer four mission opportunities each summer, primarily for congregational youth groups to come as a unit to work on homes in this poverty-stricken area of Appalachia. Laurel Ridge makes the arrangements with homeowners, purchases the needed supplies, and provides food and lodging. All groups need to do is register their youth, show up with counselors (a few of which have some building experience) and be ready to be in mission.
Mt. Morris in Wisconsin and Camp Hope in New Jersey have recently added Mission Camps to their summer schedules as well. These camps are open to adults of all ages, and folks can register themselves. On both of these sites, the work has been focused on completing needed projects around their campuses, and they have truly appreciated having folks there to help out.
The Board of World Mission is pleased to be supporting each of these mission opportunities. If you are interested in learning more, you may contact any of these Conference Centers in preparation for next year’s mission opportunities.
Regional Confirmation Mission
This program for confirmands will focus on the history of
Moravian Missions as well as the development of one’s own personal mission
statement. This is an outdoor event, where participants will “travel the
Moravian mission world,” learning about each of the full Unity Provinces.
September 10 — New Dorp Moravian Church
September 17 — Advent Moravian Church
September 24 — Lititz Moravian Church
Each event will be held 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and participants may attend at any area and are asked to bring their own lunch — beverage will be provided.
This is an outdoor event – and pastors will receive a letter with details for registering.
For more information please contact Marie Couts – 330.401.1212 or [email protected]
The Eastern District Church in Society Ministry Team Invites Youth of all Ages to Create a Visual Expression of Mathew 25:35
Submissions will be shared as part of our Art for Justice Exhibit (Date TBD) artists will be celebrated at that time. Submission deadline: September 5. Please send photos of your artwork to:
The Church in Society Ministry Team in care of Rev. Tammie Rinker: [email protected]
Just Say ‘no’ to Stewardship Campaigns and other Tips
By Laura Watson
As fall rapidly approaches, many communities of faith are making plans for “a stewardship campaign” (CRINGE!). If you’re one of them, here are four important areas to consider before you go any further:
- Be aware of inflation’s impact on everyone. If the current rate holds, giving will need to increase by 9% for you to maintain your current level of ministry. You may think, “We’ll have to cut back,” but ministry funding is about impacting people’s lives through Jesus, so the question to answer is, “How can we grow giving rather than reduce spending?”
- Consider people’s values, money motivations (does money mean freedom, security, power, and/or love?), and experiences (generationally, within the church, in the world), as well as the theology of stewardship taught in your church (hopefully that includes that our identity as God’s stewards is grounded in trust, gratitude, generosity, and love). All these things impact a person’s decision to give God their time, talent, treasure, and more.
MORAVIAN YOUNG ADULT CONVO BRAZEN AND BLAZIN’
…BEING BOHEMIAN IN 2023
July 3 – 11, 2023
A Spiritual Pilgrimage following
in the steps of the early Moravians.
The past was wide open, and the future still is…
Young Adults ages 18 to 25ish from the Northern and Southern Provinces are invited to be bold in faith, following in the Brazen and Blazin’ steps of the early Moravians at Young Adult Convo 2023. Travel, July 3 -11, 2023, to the Czech Republic to experience Bohemian life in Prague – the home the original Bethlehem Chapel, then on to Husinec – the birthplace of Jan Hus, and Tabor – where the Hussite movement began. Engage in mission outreach with Czech Young Adults in Kunvald – the birthplace of our church, worship at Chalice Rocks, walk the Moravian path of spiritual renewal in Herrnhut, sing your favorite Moravian hymns in Dresden and so much more.
Join this unique Moravian spiritual journey. Make Moravian History a catalyst for Moravian Ministry today and in the future as you gather in large and small groups, tour important Moravian historical sites, engage in mission outreach, meet young adult Moravian from all over the world to cultivate community.
Brazen and Blazin’ Young Adult Convo 2023 will take place in the summer of 2023, beginning July 3rd and concluding July 11th. The per person cost of Young Adult Convo 2023 is $2,650.00 (USD) and includes your flight from designated regional locations in the US and Canada, Housing beginning, July 4th through July 10th, Most Meals (two meals will be on your own), In Country Travel and Transit (Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany), Program, Mission Outreach, Convo T-shirt and Flight Insurance. A valid passport, one with an expiration date more than six months from the date of travel, is required.
Online registration opens July 15, 2022 at https://www.moravian.org/ccd/2023-young-adult-convo/. Most information may be found at this location. Please note, at this time there is limited registration availability for Young Adult Convo 2023.