With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are certainly living in challenging and uncertain times. We find ourselves navigating the crises of isolation, fear, and helplessness as we continue “Wading into Deeper Waters” toward new life, spiritual growth, and hopefulness. As you see from our various electronic communications, AHCC continues to serve its members, neighbors and community-at-large in new and creative ways. We are very grateful to AHCC staff and clergy, sign language interpreter, lay leaders, volunteers, and musicians for their roles in bringing the very beautiful and inspirational LiveStream services to so many of our members and friends throughout the region, the nation, and the world.
I’ll share some highlights from the April Board of Deacons meeting (virtual). To respect the health and safety of AHCC members and staff, we voted to move the AHCC Annual Meeting from May to September 2020, hopefully a time when we may safely gather in person. Nevertheless, we recognize that the world is changing and post COVID-19 activity certainly will not be the same as pre COVID-19. We will therefore, take the opportunity over the next several months to explore new and creative ways of engaging our membership in a congregational meeting, whether in-person, virtual, or a combination, as we also plan creatively for other aspects of an exciting, new future. Standing committees are continuing to meet. For example, Outreach Committee grants were distributed to area nonprofits, many of which are serving the needs of those most harshly impacted by COVID-19; the Stewardship Committee will launch a full 2020-2021 Pledge Campaign in the fall, while encouraging members to continue regular giving in the months ahead in support of AHCC and its mission; and the Nominating Committee is continuing its work to prepare a slate for the upcoming program year. Also, we were pleased to welcome AHCC’s associate minister of early life, Jordan Rebholz, to her first meeting of the Diaconate.
AHCC staff remains attuned, not only to how we can serve the community, for example working with the City of Hartford and Early Learning Center to house the Asylum Hill Essential Care site for young children of essential workers, but also regarding benefits that may help the church during these trying times. When the Payroll Protection Program of the CARES Act, which allowed for relief through a wholly or partially-forgivable loan, became available to nonprofits, including churches, staff worked closely with the Executive Committee of the Board of Deacons to obtain authorization to apply for this relief. Though we were not successful in this first round, we are well positioned to apply in a next round.
At AHCC’s recent congregational meetings, members initiated a conversation on race, gender, diversity, and inclusion. We committed at that time to continue this healthy discussion and, with expert guidance, deepen our understanding and strengthen our sense of community to help guide our actions both within and outside of AHCC. Discussions have continued among the deacons, and Vice Moderator David Figliuzzi has taken the lead on this endeavor. Among other things, he is developing ways to engage us collectively, even during this period of social distancing. You will hear more from him soon on this topic.
Yes, these are challenging and uncertain times; yet, they have provided an opportunity for us – individually and as a church community – to show our great strengths of faithfulness, compassion, creativity and innovation. In the words of the renown philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader, Howard Thurman, let us “Look well to the growing edge!”