By Ed Thompson
The staff of the Presbytery of West Virginia plans to produce videos of four complete worship services and make them available to the pastors and churches of our presbytery, or really anyone who might want to use them. We’re aiming to do one a month for the next four months with the goal of having the first one done by September 9. One of the things we’ve been hearing from many of our pastors is that they are tired. This makes sense to me.
When I was serving a church, I loved Christmas and Easter, as well as the seasons of Advent and Lent that led up to them. Those were special times with special worship services, as well special programs that typically had better attendance and better offerings than we saw the rest of the year. I loved them, but they made me tired. I regularly took vacation the week after Christmas and the week after Easter. I frequently got a cold after Christmas, and most years, I ended up taking a nap after dinner on Easter Sunday. That wasn’t intentional. I just feel asleep. Having an Easter sunrise service. which got me up far earlier and meant much less sleep than I usually got, probably had something to do with it too.
While Advent lasts for four Sundays and Lent goes on for 40 days, we’re just about 6 months into this pandemic, and there’s no real end in sight. This has been a stressful time for pastors, trying to figure out how to move worship services online, how to do pastoral care when hospitals and nursing homes haven’t allowed visitors, how to do session meetings and committee meetings and bible studies when we can’t meet in person. Even if the church has resumed in-person worship, it’s different with masks required, social distancing, and special cleaning protocols. It’s just stressful for pastors – and really for all of us.
Many of our pastors haven’t been able to take vacations either. As one of them said, “Where would I go?” Some have tried to staycation, but my limited experience doing that suggests it’s not as restful or as helpful as actually getting away from home, away from town, and away from your regular routine. COM will be recommending that churches allow their pastors to carry over at least one week of vacation into next year if they aren’t able to use it this year. I suspect very few, if any, pastors will use all of their vacation this year.
Anyway, we’re putting together these worship services with the hope that they will be helpful and allow our pastors to have the opportunity to take a break.
The first service will be based around Psalm 137. The second will focus on being a covenant people, a called people, and a sent people, which reflects the Presbytery’s mission statement. The third will emphasize stewardship, and the last is meant to be used on the Sunday after Christmas. That’s the only one that’s really tied to any specific date. Our intention is that the others can be used any time that your pastor needs a break.
We hope these services will be helpful to you. We’ll put them on our website and highlight that they’re available in the next issue of the newsletter. Please let us know what we could do differently or what would be more helpful once we get the first one done. We need and want your feedback. More importantly, we want to be helpful to you and your church any way we can.