November 2021

2021 Annual Charge Conference Pastor’s Report

As I reviewed last year’s annual report, I remembered the optimism that by this October the pandemic would be a thing of the past and we would be back to “normal” – no masks, fully vaccinated, worship services and ministries all back up to pre-pandemic levels. Of course, that has not happened. And yet

We are still engaged in vital worship:
Thanks to our amazing team of volunteers, especially Rob Pongallo and John Motley, our service has been livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube each week and has been broadcast via Zoom audio. We have a call-in line where you can listen to the service or just the sermon with the push of a button.

Our incredible organist/accompanist/pianist/bell choir director Roy Buser has ensured that we continue to celebrate the arts in worship. Recently he instituted a “Worshiping God through the Arts” time for sharing of different art forms during our service. The bell choir has been practicing and will have a musical offering soon. We have been meeting in person practicing safe COVID protocols and hope to continue and of course pray that infection rates will continue to decrease.

We are still engaged in vital ministries and mission:
We have continued to engage with the community. Our summer rummage sale made over $2000 for the general fund and we donated many bags of clothing and household items to local charities following the sale. We have recently installed a food pantry box that has been under heavy use by the community, and we continue to collect community prayers with our prayer box outside the east office door. Kathy Motley and I have continued on the board of the Bellaire Puritas Development Corporation, helping us to increase visibility of the church in the neighborhood. Gillianne and Jan Pongallo, Becky Pavick, Barb Emery, Kathy Motley and I all staffed a kids’ craft table at Jefferson Rocks on two consecutive Thursdays in August. And we served meals to our congregation and the community using the produce from our wonderful plots at the community garden, which once again produced 200 pounds of vegetables and fruits. In November, we will join with West Park United Church of Christ to pack 10,000 meals for hungry people around the world via the Rise Against Hunger network.

We have much to look forward to:

We are just beginning a visioning process with the North Coast District Coordinator of New Ministry Development Joy Fenton-Jones. It is my prayer that this process will provide a means to focus our energies and increase our joy and excitement in serving this community together. As Advent approaches, we look forward to our annual Advent book study and worship with West Park UCC. We are welcoming new members and opening our doors wide for visitors. The future looks bright and God is guiding us!

I leave you with these words from Paul’s letter to the Romans: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Fear Not

Pastor Dianne

October 2021

This has been an interesting fall, hasn’t it? While we celebrated Rally Day with a bag breakfast on our “front porch patio” (thank you Jill and Janis!), because of COVID restrictions we are still very cautious when it comes to large gatherings indoors. We are still masking, passing the peace via waves and peace signs, and of course, one of the biggest holes, our choir has not been able to sing during worship. It is a strange September indeed.

But we are still being the church, and some very cool things are happening and about to happen!

On October 20, we will begin a visioning process with the help of Joy Fenton-Jones, who is Coordinator of New Ministry Development for the North Coast District of the UMC. We will be using the book Transforming Power: Biblical Strategies for Making a Difference in Your Community as a resource. Separate from the visioning process, if you would like to be a part of a book study, please let me know. As I said in our Church Council meeting, our visioning will focus on attainable, concrete goals for the congregation in the next five years, especially in terms of community and neighborhood outreach.

We are moving forward with the rest of our fall programming, just in different ways. Our community meal in October will be a drive-thru event. We will hand out candy on Halloween to neighborhood kids in front of the church, and we plan to participate in the Jefferson Park Haunted Hollow. Although our full choir is not able to sing, we will have some form of artistic offering each Sunday. And we already have plans to join with West Park UCC for an Advent study using Dr. Amy-Jill Levine’s book Light of the World: A Beginner’s Guide to Advent. And of course our Community Garden is in full swing, thanks to the efforts of Roy and his tireless volunteers – we are hoping for another 200 pounds of produce!

What do we need for all of these exciting events? YOU! Please take the time to decide where God is calling you to serve this fall, and let me know which of these piques your interest. It takes all of us to make Christ UMC a vibrant place where the Spirit is at work! And remember

Fear Not

Pastor Dianne

July / August 2021

What’s New?

What’s new? Last year, our answer to that question was probably a lot different than if you asked that today. What’s new? We’re finally able to gather in person again! We started worshiping in our sanctuary and those who are vaccinated are no longer required to mask! We can get together with friends again, and yes, we have even begun being able to hug one another without worrying about getting each other sick.

What’s new? As we begin to gather once more, you may notice some things in our building that were not there before. We have new carpeting in some areas. Our nursery has been moved to accommodate our new “pay-as-you-go” store, which hopefully will be open soon to serve the neighborhood. But probably the most exciting thing is this – after 83 years our building is handicap accessible! We have installed chair lifts at our main entrance to allow for access to the Emma Lang Lounge (and the chapel and restrooms), Jump Fellowship Hall, and the sanctuary. With the outside ramp, this means that we can truly welcome everyone without regard to physical ability.

So, what’s new? Perhaps a better question to ask is “What are we going to do differently, now that we have a chance to ‘start again’”? What is your vision for Christ UMC in 2021 and beyond? I’d love to hear your thoughts as we prepare to enter a new program year together!

Fear not,

Pastor Dianne

June 2021

Dear Christ UMC Family and Friends,

Following our joint meeting of the COVID Leadership Team and Church Council, and after reviewing data and discussing our path forward, we are delighted to announce that we will be welcoming a limited number of folks back to worship beginning May 23, Pentecost Sunday! Although the county is still in the red status, case numbers have begun to decrease as more people become fully vaccinated.

We encourage all church attendees to be fully vaccinated before beginning to attend worship, for their safety and the safety of the congregation. As before, high risk individuals and those who cannot receive the vaccine may choose to stay home and worship virtually.

After a review of our sanctuary space, we have determined that up to 28 units may be in the sanctuary safely – allowing for a six-foot minimum distance between individuals/family units. Because this number does not encompass our entire congregation, and some members do not have internet access, we ask for your consideration for all of our church family as you make plans to attend. If you wish, you may note your intent to attend worship with the church office or on our website

Although we encourage you to call ahead, we hope to be able to welcome everyone who comes to our door each week. If the sanctuary is full, we may be able to offer you another option to view the service in the building, or we will need to ask you to return the following week. If we reach capacity prior to Sunday based on those who have called ahead, we will post that information on our Facebook page and website.

The following precautions will be observed:
• A mask covering your mouth and nose must be worn at all times in the building. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided.
• You will enter the main east door (shopping center side) starting at 10:15am.
• As you enter the church, you will be required to have your temperature taken by our Touchless Thermometer, sanitize your hands with one of our Touchless Hand Sanitizers, and then proceed to your pew.
• You will sit in the designated spots in the marked pews. Social Distancing will be observed, Family units may sit together, Children will not come forward but will remain with their families.
• The only open areas will be the sanctuary and the two restrooms (with Touchless Towel Dispensers) off the back hall, between the Emma Lang Lounge and the Chapel. If overflow space is required, we may open the Emma Lang Lounge.
• You must sing silently and respond silently during the service. After worship you will leave by the same door you entered, maintaining physical distance.
• No Coffee Hour and only non-touch greetings!

We are very excited to be able to see one another in person again and worship together. Please continue to pray for those affected by the pandemic. Let’s all do our part to keep one another safe so that we can move toward our “new normal”!

And of course,

Fear Not – Pastor Dianne