by Heidi Regier Kreider

2020 has been a year of loss and learning, struggle and opportunity.  COVID 19 has turned our world upside down, disrupting personal life and congregational activities. Systemic racism and inequity have been starkly exposed once again, calling for a reckoning of social and economic justice. An election season full of turmoil has exacerbated divisions in our communities and eroded trust in civic leadership. Fires and hurricanes have signaled the grim reality of climate change and the disproportionate impact on those who are least responsible for it. And, the ongoing pandemic continues to bring loss and lament, as we grieve the deaths of loved ones.

In the midst of all this, “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).Through this powerful love of God, the body of Christ is called to be the church precisely for such a time as this.

In this way, 2020 has also been a year of courageous and faithful witnesses within Western District Conference. Congregations have explored new technologies to continue worshiping and proclaiming God’s word, and to collaborate with other congregations.  Pastors have connected with each other for support, encouragement and prayer in their ministry challenges. Members of WDC have contributed generously to the Hope Fund to assist congregations most impacted by COVID 19.Congregations have done anti-racism studies and advocacy, drive-through fundraising meals for mission and service projects, alternative forms of vacation Bible school and Sunday school for children and their families, deliveries of care-packages and groceries for those who are isolated, and many other expressions of faith and witness.

As we look ahead to the ongoing challenges of the coming year, let us deepen our roots in God’s powerful love and focus our priorities to bear witness to that love. Let us pray for courageous leaders who are ready to experiment and risk.  Let us nurture compassion that embraces both lament and hope in the midst of suffering.  Let us practice the courage and humility to reach out across divisions.  Let us allow seeds of transformation and new life to grow out of the ground of suffering and chaos.

WDC will continue to provide crucial support for ministers and resources for congregations to meet these challenges, with the support of your prayers, participation and financial gifts.  We are working together, to be the church “for such a time as this!”