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Transition and Renewal

Happy Spring, beloveds,

Oh how wonderful these early days of spring's warming shine feel, yes? As our cold snaps begin giving way to longer days and warmer afternoons, I'm delighting in – as I know you are too – spring's high-season of transition and renewal. A season that can call us to reflect on how we wish to "spring forward" amid the promise of new bloomings.

How fitting a thought for where we find our faith life together at Evergreen these days. We're undergoing a number of transitions this spring that are both invigorating and challenging. Perhaps the largest one being our collective anticipation about if and when our physical home may be sold. Myself, our staff, board, and lay leaders have been busy as bees making preparations in anticipation of this transition – from taking inventories of what things we'll take with us, to obtaining fully portable worship technology equipment, to tending to the needs of our youth and parents who crave the spiritual home we offer. And what I find unique as we all work together on each day's tasks is how all of our work together is simultaneously generating a bit of a spring renaissance within Evergreen. We're honing our in-person and online small groups, we're embracing and regrowing our in-person religious education, we're waking up to consistent hybrid Sunday services and monthly live music Sundays, and we're reinvigorating our Stewardship, Membership, Covenant Circle, and Endowment teams, to name a few.

And beloveds, I am so inspired by you.

As we navigate these transitions, I've been recalling my message to you at Ingathering in September. At that fall celebration – which I now see as a kind of restarting point, it was Evergreen's first in-person gathering in nearly three years – I shared with you as your brand new minister my observations of how Evergreen's river of consciousness had been held back due to logjams that seemed to have gathered during COVID. I spoke with you about how we might join together in our Evergreen "raft" to start dismantling and navigating our way through those jams. Well beloveds, only six months later and just consider how significantly Evergreen's vitality has grown. Just ponder for a moment how our collective faith through the winter is now budding with renewed spirit for our community's expanding renewal.

Evergreen's river of consciousness is flowing more steadily and with fewer impedances now. Do you experience it? Have you joined us in a small group or a worship service and experienced how well we've managed to navigate a more resilient course for our journey? Even as we anticipate a move to a new rental home for our Evergreen faith?

Are we uncertain about this journey? Of course we are, just as any congregation undertaking such a brave endeavor would be because the truth is there is no map to definitively guide us, friends. Will there be challenging times ahead? We have every faith there will be, don't we, because our collective experience has taught us that we're capable of taking on significant challenges just as we've done many times before. What's inspiring, though, is that I hear from many of you how our shared ministry, mission, and values help manifest your trust in the overall direction of our river as we go. I've heard from many of you that it's this journeying together – not our physical location – that powers your spiritual strength and resilience. So as this spring bursts forth, I perceive Evergreen life is growing stronger, generating new buds along its branches which will soon join in the bloom.

Spring is also a season for tending to the soil and organic foundations for these pending blooms. Our stewardship and pledging of financial resources and talents this spring will serve us well in sowing the seeds of our faith along the river's banks as we go. Our depth and breadth of Evergreen's professional, personal, and communal experience is always here to support you, just one "Hello" or one outstretched hand away.

I'm so enjoying this stretch of our springtime souls – and river – alongside you, and I pray you are too. My recent days are being spent having lengthy conversations with staff, collaboratively evaluating what's working well in our roles, what could be improved, and imagining some new goals as a professional team who supports and helps guide. Gratefully, prayerfully, it seems we can truly begin leaving COVID-era emergency mentalities behind us now. I know many of us are eager to rejoin and regrow Evergreen's program offerings once again. We are – steadily – rowing along, reaching out to new members, visitors and friends who expand the bonds of our faith journeys as our spring river flows onward.

In closing, beloveds, I invite you to center this thought in your mind: as this spring's buds, leaves, blooms and thistles now begin to burst forth along the evergreen river banks, we will do well to keep on rowing at a steady sustainable pace. It's going to take all of us, friends. All of us generating precious congregational life together while welcoming all the new growth this spring will certainly bring. We will do well to open-heartedly welcome it as the opportunity to grow and lean on one another that it is. May the blooming warm your hearts and minds,

With love,

Rev. Joe

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