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Newsletter - Chips Off The Rock - April 2022

A Season of Change

How do you feel about change? Many of us do not welcome making changes in our lives. Yet our lives are constantly changing. For Rock Run, there are certainly a lot of changes happening at this time.

We are changing seasons. My first Sunday worshipping in person with the congregation, March 20th, was also the first day of spring. Most of us are likely enjoying the warmer weather and the signs of spring that we see emerging around us!  Sue Richard was the guest preacher on March 20. She talked about “confession.” We are in the season of Lent, which is a time of reflection and a time when we can make changes in our behavior. Sue reminded us of the importance of “confession” in this process of making needed changes in our lives.

There are lots of other changes for me and for the congregation at this time as well. I am officially beginning my time as the interim pastor of Rock Run on April 1. (I don’t think this is an April Fool’s joke; at least I hope not!) After successfully concluding my time with Cedar Creek Church of the Brethren in March, I welcome this change in ministry settings. I look forward to starting at Rock Run and learning to better know the congregation and its members in the coming months.

I begin my time with Rock Run in the middle of Lent; soon we will be celebrating Love Feast and Easter together. These celebrations are opportunities for change as well, as we eat together and wash each other’s feet and as we remember Jesus’ death and resurrection – and what this means in our lives and for the world.

Tim’s retirement as pastor means that Rock Run is going through a time of significant change as well. Tim was pastor of this congregation for 19 years. That’s a long time. Pastoral transitions are necessarily times of change. A new pastor will do things differently than the previous one. People often redefine their relationship to a congregation during these times of pastoral transition. Sometimes people use this time to recommit to the faith community and to get more involved. Others may take this time to move on from the congregation, especially if they were very close to the former pastor and have a hard time connecting with the new one. I hope this is a time of recommitment and renewed energy for the congregation and its members.

This is all happening after over two years of dealing with the COVID pandemic. Fortunately, COVID illnesses have decreased significantly over the past few weeks. I understand that Rock Run just recently began worshipping without masks for the first time since pandemic precautions made masks necessary in public.

What will happen with the COVID pandemic in the future remains to be seen. Even as I write this, news of a new strain of the omicron variant, known as BA.2, is causing concern. Hopefully this is not the beginning of a new wave of infections, but we do not know what will happen for sure.

What we do know is that COVID has caused a lot of change in our society and in the church. Times have changed and people have changed. Some people have left congregations and may not come back. There may be new people who are looking for a new church home now that churches are opening back up again. We don’t know what the new normal will look like.

So how do we deal with all of these changes? That’s part of what an interim pastor is tasked with doing, helping congregations understand their new reality and plan for the future that they feel called to. Like the people of Israel wandering in the wilderness, we know we cannot go back to where we were before. But we may be uncertain as to what “promised land” God is calling us to. It is good to know, like the Israelites did, that God is there to guide us in times of change. May the changeless God indeed be with us in this “season of change” for Rock Run, guiding and blessing us on this journey that we are now on together.

Interim Pastor John Schrock

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