From Pastor Lisa:
On June 3rd, I hit my head getting into my car. I had parked on a hill, which I don’t usually do, and was looking in my purse, so I didn’t see the car door come back at me. I know how many times in life there are those small moments that mark a before and an after. For me, this small moment led to a concussion that is still having some significant disruptions in my life.
We often like to think of challenges and recovery as linear—moving in the positive direction, hopefully quickly. As we are discovering in our community public health, this is not always the case. Sometimes there is movement forward, sometimes there are steps back, and frequently it feels like it is taking far too long to get on the other side. For me, my recovery from this concussion has been slow. My medical team continues to expect a full recovery but the time is unknown. In the meantime, I learn my new limits along the way, at times I make forward progress only to need to take a few steps back.
In order to aid my recovery, I have asked to reduce my hours and responsibilities for the time being. I am so grateful for the overwhelming support of the congregation these last three months. I am especially grateful for the work of Pastor Patty, who has stepped into so many needs, to Mariah taking on a great deal as she steps into new roles, the leadership of council and staff in the midst of times that are complex for church life.
In coordination with my medical team, I am trying to focus my efforts on the areas that can best be incorporated with times of rest. For me this means activities like short phone calls, writing slowly with breaks, emailing with breaks and filming for worship can be a way to participate in church life. Unfortunately for the time being, it is difficult for me to participate in in-person worship.
Over these next few weeks, we will define exactly what this will look like and may be trying out different schedules to see what works best to both support my recovery and the needs of the church. For this Sunday, we will have me film a sermon that can be shared both online and for those gathered in person—something I never would have imagined two years ago! It is my hope that we will discover rhythms that are more sustainable both for healing and the support of staff.
In all things, I am so grateful to you all for your graciousness over these last three months. It has meant so much to me. We don’t need meals or any of those other concrete things, but it would mean a great deal to me that you take care of yourself as well. This has been a long pandemic, and I know it is hard to make time for the healing we all need. If you are looking for a place to put your energies, please do share them with the church, which is not the work of one, but the Spirit who moves among the many. I look forward to the time when I can return in full capacity. Thank God, that no matter what, we do not walk through this alone.
May God bless you, as you are all in my prayers.
From Moderator Jim Bechtold:
I’m sure you join me in gratitude for wonderful, amazing Pastor Lisa! Now, as her church community, it is time to support her, so she recovers as quickly as possible.
We are beginning to work with the staff to prioritize tasks – can some be postponed or modified during this period? Can someone besides Lisa take responsibility for some of them for a period? How can lay leadership help? All of this is being done in the context of what Lisa and her medical team determine makes sense for her to do while her recovery continues.
We are incredibly fortunate, as Lisa says, to have a strong and dedicated staff committed to helping and supporting her. They have and will continue to step up to do all the myriad tasks and thinking that are required to keep our church working towards its mission. Your church council will also do its part to assist.
So, as a member or friend of First Congregational Church, Bellevue, what can you do? First, keep Lisa in your prayers for a speedy recovery. If you have ideas on what you can do to help during this time, please speak up! Kaarin Shumate, Pastor Patty, Mariah Pepper or I would be very happy and grateful to talk with you. Look also in the eCall for volunteer opportunities that will be a great help to the staff and lay leadership.
With the grace of God, Pastor Lisa will have a full and complete recovery! Let us stand together and with her to keep our beloved church strong and able to serve others and ourselves.