Pastoral Note – April 14

Dear Yates Family,

I hope that this week’s letter finds you all safe and healthy. I miss the chance to see you and interact with you in all the small ways that make church relationships so satisfying and enduring. Thank you for embracing the alternative ways we have tried to hold together and to grow as a community. Thank you, too, for taking initiative to make some of that happen!

Today, I was excited to place a check request that will supply two weeks of meals for the residents of the Families Moving Forward house while all of Durham stays at home. As you know, FMF (and its predecessor, the Interfaith Hospitality Network) has been a missional focus of the church for many years. Hundreds of Yates-ers have contributed, cooked or volunteered across that time. Yates remains invested because we value the comprehensive approach FMF takes to intervene in the lives of households stuck in the cycles that keep them living without shelter or a sustainable future.

I use the word “excited” because I know how deep the need is, not only for these particular families but also for the organization that is supporting them. Like just about every business and organization in our community, the precautions against COVID-19 have disrupted every customary channel of communication and support. FMF is a ministry partner, and partnership means that we experience both the joys and burdens of shared ministry.

In some ways, the need for support is amplified by our present circumstance. Lately, I have sometimes felt powerless recognizing that we must keep our distance while the community struggles and suffers. I am a do-er, and I pastor a congregation full of do-ers. But what can you do when loving your neighbor demands you stay at home? We have many resources in abundance: our attention we can turn in prayer for others, the time to make a mask, write a card or make a call, and we do have the financial means to support those facing lean times. We can give.  We can share. Yes, we can, even at home.

What a joy to know that Yates had ample financial resources to help underwrite FMF’s alternative approach to feeding and supporting their guests. What a privilege to know we could play such an important role at a critical time. What leadership from our mission leaders to demand we do our best to help meet this need!

I tell you all this today so that you might share in the joy of giving. Coming alongside this ministry partner is a church-wide effort made possible because you have been giving all along the way. I also tell you so that you might hear from me, loud and clear, “Thank You!” I thank you because responding generously and quickly can only happen when the congregation has cultivated a culture of generosity. This is a time when many churches are worrying and wondering whether the experience of scattering will disintegrate the church. In many ways, I see signs of growing health and strength at Yates across this time. God has been faithful, and when the church can be faithful in its relationships, we bear witness to that.

I know we have been consistently calling on you, the church, to remain supportive of the infrastructure and ministry needs that we committed to when we adopted the budget at the beginning of the year. I also know many of you are facing anxieties, worries, and the isolation wears on you. I am grateful to see how you, as members, have courageously continued sharing and giving as part of your discipleship. Know it is making a difference by helping Yates remain on secure footing while reaching out to minister in the neighborhood and the world. The church continues to seek out ways to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed, and to live out the mission of the church every day. Thank you for doing your part!

We are in this together, and together we’ll see it through.

Grace and Peace,

Christopher

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