Dear Friends in Christ, This month, I participated in a leadership conference hosted on Zoom. At the end of the main plenary session, the participants were divided up into breakout discussion groups of twelve folks who did not know each other previously. The facilitator was delayed, so the group sat waiting--seemingly forever. Breaking the silence someone said, “I guess we will need to jazz this session.” What I believe he meant was that without instructions or a playbook, we needed to get creative and share as the Spirit moved us about our own leadership experiences and insights. The reference was fitting because seasoned jazz musicians excel at riffing, re-harmonizing, essentially “composing” in real time—while improvising parts of familiar tunes creatively and spontaneously without sheet music, the musical equivalent of a playbook. It occurred to me that as a parish, we along with many others, have been asked to live, move and act in a “jazz” mode since March 2020. Without a script for the unprecedented time in pandemic, we have found ourselves called to work in new ways to keep worshipping, connected, and moving forward as a body. You can read ahead in the pages that follow about the many ministries which remained active, often altered by the circumstances. Keeping ministries and other projects active has been possible because of the willingness of members to pitch in creatively and with flexibility. Collectively, we have been able to continue on with many ministries covering the gamut even if in person activities were drastically limited. As is often the case, a few individuals took the lead in important ways. In particular, I would like to highlight a mention those who went above and beyond. It is likely not be news to those who have been around this year that Janet Porsche has managed to successfully juggle serving as Senior Warden, organizing the Parish Administrator search committee, chairing our Journey Forward Team while also chairing the Property committee. Each of these tasks is significant alone, and even more so taken together. To round out the household commitment, John Hyde has led our online production efforts and has also worked extensively researched updated A/V capabilities, which will enable us to represent our church well both in person and virtually. Luke Zimmerman came through for the parish by helping the church to successfully file for the PPP loan proceeds and by working on the VLA lease renewal. Seeking PPP funding was strongly recommended by the Diocese and provided a helpful support during a time of uncertainty. The Reverend Ken Boccino started as our Deacon this past Summer and has been a faithful and enthusiastic presence by helping to lead worship, co-convening the Bible Study, participating in our A/V system update project, and by assisting with a number of Outreach projects. I also have the pleasure of working closely with Ken on the Commission on Ministry. Many thanks to Marge Tidey for all her years of faithful service and for patiently staying in the role until we could find Eileen. I would also like to offer words of gratitude to Eileen Cosentino for working diligently to learn the essential ins and outs of the office and for staying flexible during this time of constant change and real time shifts. Eileen has done a great job during a difficult transitional time. I expect that she will continue to make leave a positive mark on the office and the entire church. Like no other time I can recall, we have been called to examine and reflect deeply upon both the progress and remaining challenges we face as a nation and as a people of faith. In response to recent upheavals related to longstanding racial, political and social issues which predated the pandemic, our members have made earnest attempts to be people of goodwill. For instance, a significant parish contingent showed up for the summertime Denville rally for justice. Bishop Hughes hosted racial reconciliation conversations drawing in folks from around the Diocese which allowed for much learning, sharing and conversation around the difficult topics of race, gender, power and systemic imbalances, such as those found in education, housing, employment and health care. The positive outcome encouraged a number of parishes to host their own local conversations. Following Bishop Hughes lead and responding to this fraught moment in history, during Lent 2021, the Reverend Michael Muller and I convened similar conversations open to parishioners from our parish, St. John’s, Boonton and St. Peter’s, Mountain Lakes. Like the Bishop’s sessions on race, our conversations were characterized by authentic sharing, meaningful conversation and an admission among many participants that they had much to learn about this aspect of American history and its impact on the present circumstances. In many ways, the stage is set the stage for further work in the area of race and healing. Our 2021 Annual meeting falls at the end of Easter season a week ahead of Feast of Pentecost. This is a happy and meaningful result of our delayed meeting as Pentecost is perhaps the most important singular event of the early church. The collect for Pentecost below describes the pouring out of the Spirit upon the gathered. Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. The Day of Pentecost as recorded in the Book of Acts resulted in the transformation of those gathered and the subsequent sending out of those present at Pentecost into the world for the purpose of spreading the good news of salvation in Christ. It is also helpful to remember that those gathered were operating in a time of uncertainty, principally because Jesus was no longer with them to guide them. We have endured collective and personal losses and challenges this past year and we know what it is like to operate without a playbook. Yet, at the same time, we have much to be thankful for as a parish. The Church of the Saviour is well positioned to move forward and thrive, in a renewed and vibrant way, which pays homage to the past and which embraces and incarnates new expressions of our faith community. Our faith will give rise to new programs and initiatives. In other words, communal discernment and prayers will birth programs and other specific manifestations of our faith life. In other words, enduring programs and activities will flow from our faith life, not the other way around. Finally, the time ahead is likely to be less dramatic and historic as 2020 especially in terms of the public health challenges. Out of the depths of pandemic, it is a period which calls us to move forward boldly while taking some of the revelations and lessons of the pandemic with us on the journey ahead. It seems that the winding down of this chapter of the pandemic offers an opening to a re-imagined future, which like the best of improvisation will mean “playing” something very new while retaining that familiar and meaningful. Let us go forth into the world honoring what we knew and loved before and let us embrace being blessed and transformed by the Spirit of God and our call to be a faithful, resilient and dynamic presence set in the world for all, extending to the ends of the earth.