From the Pastor

(July 2020)

Hello St. Mary’s!  Peace and good in Christ!


In the winter of 2018, I was invited to Winston-Salem, NC, to participate in a leadership and planning forum for the Re:Generate Fellowship Program at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.  Our convener was Dr. Matthew Wesley Williams, recently appointed president of the Interdenominational Theological Center, and one of the kindest, most thoughtful, and wisest leaders I’ve ever known.  As we discussed the future of the Re:Generate Program, he continually used a single phrase:  “our next, most faithful steps.”  As he described it, our faith and our vision is a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path.”  It is a lamp, not a sun.  We don’t see the whole path ahead; all we can do is take what we know now and take our “next, most faithful steps.”  He cautioned us that we can’t always know if our steps are the right ones.  But that’s not even the point.  The point is that we walk in faith.  We can only discern our best steps, and then once we take those steps, we have more data, more experience with which we can take our “next, most faithful steps.”  This is a view of leadership that is “living and active.”


Over the last few months, the leadership, employees, and volunteers of St. Mary’s have been working incredibly hard to re-imagine church in the midst of this pandemic, seeking to provide leadership without any kind of a script.  They are, quite literally, inventing new ways of being church on the fly.  While our specific accomplishments are detailed later in this communication, suffice it to say that they have done everything possible to love God and love neighbor in every conceivable way.  I couldn’t be more proud of Rob Brown and our consistory, and each of our ministry team chairs and their teams, and our employees, as they have cared for our community in the midst of all the other concerns swirling around them.  They truly are doing all they can to take their next, most faithful steps.


Now, we find ourselves in the midst of summer, and we are called, again, to take our “next, most faithful steps.”  With some experience behind us, additional data about this virus and prevention, and developing national, state, and local leadership from government and religious institutions, we are again required to take our next most faithful steps into the summer.  This information, partnered with our faith convictions, have brought us to this report, and the plan we are going to execute for the summer.  Here, we want to celebrate and lift-up the faithful steps we have taken in the last few months during this quarantine.  I hope that you are proud of your congregation and the leadership we have shown in our community!  And we want to communicate what we believe our next, most faithful steps are, hoping that you will join in the work!  I encourage you to read it, pray over this, and find ways to participate in this new reality. 


As we’ve said many times before – the church hasn’t been shut down; we’ve been sent.  And I cannot be more proud of the ways that we have reimagined church.  We truly have been the church in our homes, our grocery stores, our places of work.  I’m deeply grateful to watch y’all do church up close and personal.


Peace and good!

Pastor Sam

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St. Mary's United Church of Christ 

1441 East Mayberry Road 

Westminster, Maryland 21158

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