For What We Can Do - Give Thanks

posted Nov 20, 2020, 7:38 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,

The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

A few months ago one of our faithful members said to me regarding the pandemic and our limited actions, “I’m not concentrating on what I can’t do; instead, I’m thinking about what I still can do, and being thankful for what I have.” I thought those were wise words, and I’ve tried to keep that thought before me. Most days I do pretty well in remembering it; other days can be a bit more difficult as is to be expected in these arduous and challenging times.

That said, in this season of giving thanks, I’d like to celebrate with you what we still can do and what we have done this year, even in a pandemic.

  • We had two baptisms and one new member joined — and that is a person who has never set foot in our sanctuary. What a credit to your warm welcome and loving presence! 
  • Throughout the pandemic, our music ministry has blessed us under the inspired direction of Judith Daugherty, as she has brought us traditional and eclectic selections through YouTube videos and varied soloists and musicians. Please Save the Date for our upcoming virtual Music Night — Music for the Season on December 11 at 8 PM.
  • We learned new ways of being the church and got “tech savvy” rather quickly, and have had Sunday Worship, Sunday Evening Prayers, Wednesday Prayer Time, Adult Education, Caregivers meetings, and Consistory meetings via Zoom allowing us to still be together virtually. And, of course, I must mention our Monday Night Zoom Kids where our children are continuing to learn the stories of the Bible and sing music with our five faithful teachers.
  • We awarded four $500 Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Youth Group scholarships to entering and continuing college students to support them in their education.
  • We secured WiFi in the sanctuary, and thanks to a generous donation from a member, purchased a Mevo camera so that as we worshiped from home we had a stable internet connection and could reach more people with the good news of the Gospel via YouTube.
  • Our Hospitality Committee continues to create welcoming signs so that all who pass by the church know that even though our buildings may be closed, our hearts are wide open to all.
  • We’ve accomplished several Buildings and Grounds projects, including painting the Spratford Colonial sign; painting the bollards and putting safety stripes on the steps of the Education Building; replacing the church chandelier lights with all LED bulbs and replacing the old dimmer switches to LED dimmer switches; purchasing a new dehumidifier for the church basement; and purchasing new ceiling fans for the sanctuary, the cost of installation and fans all donated by three families of the church. These are just a few projects we have completed.
  • The biggest celebration regarding Buildings and Grounds, though, is because of your faithful giving and two large, anonymous donations to the 24 for 24 Capital Campaign, we were able to complete the renovation of our church steps along with a new railing so that the entrance to the church is now beautiful, welcoming, and safe. Also, we had our sanctuary painted and what a difference that has made! It is much brighter, with a feeling of God’s peace and an air of tranquility. 
  • For over 45 years we have participated in Middletown Helps Its Own, delivering holidays meals and Christmas toys in November and December, respectively. And tomorrow is the Thanksgiving delivery at 9:30 AM!
  • We remain committed members of the Community Outreach Group, helping those in our community whom Jesus called “the least of these” during the Back to School Donation Drive and the Christmas Donation Drive (see flyer attached for this year’s donation information). And there are 6-7 members of our congregation that volunteer in leadership positions at the Calico Cat Food Pantry every week — a pantry that is feeding close to 1,000 people a month because of the effects of the pandemic. 
  • Earlier in the year, we were the meeting site for two Girl Scouts Troops, and now an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting gathers on our church grounds.
  • You have been generous in donating food to our food drive in partnership with the Middletown Lions Club and Investors Bank which has helped our local food pantries. In addition, we have collected coats, blankets, tents, sleeping bags, scarves, and gloves for the homeless encampment to which Steve Brigham ministers in Lakewood.
  • And finally, after two and a half years, we found the ministry partner for which we have been hoping. I’m happy to report that on Wednesday the Middletown Arts Center held its first class in our Education Building. What a wonderful opportunity we have been given by God to collaborate with such a great institution in our community!

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, I remain overwhelmingly grateful for all the ways you so selflessly give to our church. You are a congregation that takes seriously Jesus’ Greatest Commandment to love God with everything you’ve got, and to love your neighbor as yourself. I see you living this commandment everyday, whether in the ministries we are called to do, or in the way you have cared for each other and our larger community during the pandemic.

I look forward to welcoming you to worship when we will gather online at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM on Zoom or livestream on our YouTube channel - MRC: A Fabulous Church of Love. As always, we have inspiring music planned for our worship. Our Prelude is “Now Thank We All Our God” Judith Daugherty, organ; our anthem is “King of Kings” Izaak Thorpe, soloist; and our Sermon-Prayer-Song is “Give Thanks” Judith Daugherty, piano. I will be preaching from Matthew 25.31-46 and my sermon title is Jesus in Disguise. In addition, the Consistory and I invite you to consider sending in a special Thanksgiving offering for the ministries of the church so we can continue to do the good work to which God has called us. 

We may be pandemic weary, mourning the loss of loved ones, and the many who have suffered and died as a result of COVID-19, but I’m hoping that on this Thanksgiving we will be grateful to God for what we have done as a church, what we can do, and what we still have. May your national day of gratitude be happy, safe, and healthy. Stay well, beloved one of God.

In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

Tricia Sheffield,
Nov 20, 2020, 7:38 AM