There is a cultural nostalgia present for those who grew up accustomed to eating around the table together with their loved ones. Many of us experience a type of collective longing for something from years past that is reminiscent of a simpler time in our lives. I, Ryan, grew up in a home where we rarely had the opportunity to eat dinner together, which means that I never got the chance to “set the table” with my siblings. For my family, eating around the table together felt like a cultural relic. We as a family had to find new ways of strengthening our familial bonds, connecting with our neighbors, and sharing life together. The core values were still present even if we had to learn to practice them differently than previous generations.

Similarly, we have not been able to “set the table” together at Grace as we did before the pandemic. The world has changed, and we are learning what it means to be a worshiping community amidst those changes. Community life at Grace has only been possible because of the work of all those who have volunteered their time, talents, and gifts to cultivate community and connection during the pandemic, and in this new post-pandemic world that we have found ourselves in. We wanted to take some time to offer our gratitude and thanksgiving for all those who have made setting the table possible during the pandemic, as we re-gather for in person worship, and continue to grow as a community during these changing times.

Change can be difficult, but learning to adapt is central to what it means to have a life rooted in the Spirit. Jesus taught us that the Holy Spirit, like the wind, “blows where it pleases” and though the pandemic has uprooted so much in our world, if we will let the Spirit, she will guide us into new ways of setting the table as we work together to love our neighbors. So much work has gone into making sure we stay connected as a Church, and we have so many different volunteers to thank for making that possible. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but below are some of the people who have stepped up in a special way to help ensure our community was able to navigate all the challenges we faced during pandemic:

Bob Cantrall has coordinated set-up for worship, as well as literally thousands of other details that have kept our physical plant running. Bob has also worked and is still working hard to keep all of us safe from COVID exposure.

DeWitt Burnham is a new face at Grace, and he’s already pitched in many times to lead the set-up for our outdoor service.

Kyndra Miller and Cary Collins have re-gathered our teams of ushers, who have all had to learn several new ways of ushering. Sara Rowan, Grant Showley, Vince Zuniga, and Kyndra have all shown up to help usher in unusual times!

Brian Capener has made beautiful video over and over for us this year, livestreaming in the most unusual circumstances. It’s hard to overstate how creative, persistent, and dependable Brian has been as he’s helped us build a connection between the sanctuary (or labyrinth! or Newton Room!) or our offices!) and everyone at home.

Christian Thompson, Michaela Cowan, Craig Bond, and Grant Showley have all helped mightily with the livestream; Mike Cantrall helped us with crucial technical troubleshooting many times!
Our Altar Guild, led by Helen Hendrick, has adjusted to all kinds of changes as we’ve begun worshipping in person again, and has literally kept the light shining at Grace!

Karla Jensen coordinated at-home communion distribution with the help of several others.
Our lectors and intercessors, coordinated by Diane LeBlanc, Sue DeLucca, Ken Moll, and Helen Christianson, have braved Zoom and now are returning to read Scripture and pray in person.

Julia Capener led our Lenten art stained glass project that became (without our knowing it) the perfect backdrop for our outdoor worship.

Do you have time, talents, or gifts you would like to put to use in our community? Then we invite you to reach out to Rev. Anne, Rev. Amy, or the leader of a ministry you are interested in volunteering for so that we can discuss what kinds of roles might fit your gifting.

Ryan Cagle

Ryan is Grace’s new Communications Coordinator and you can read more about him HERE.