The board would like to offer gratitude for the good thinking and input we have received to help to navigate our path through this time. Input and ideas are always welcomed, so that we can benefit as a community from the collective awareness and wisdom we bring.
The board has identified caring for one another as a top priority at this time. We do have budget-making processes going forward in the background. AND we are making space to focus on what it can look like to strengthen our connections and mutual support. These radical times are an opportunity for us to re-assess our values and where we are putting our energy. We will never regret putting our energy into caring for one another. And as we grow our systems and capacity in this area, it will strengthen us long past COVID-19.
To this end, our board and religious professional staff are bringing back the small group ministry of our cluster groups. These are groups identified by zip codes and neighborhoods to allow us to be in closer contact, and to exchange support with congregants living closest to us. We are developing a starting structure for this, and mapping out the groups by zip codes. We are calling these “Congregational Care Clusters.” While every member will be connected to a cluster, your participation with that group is optional. The intent is to be in connection with each other; to reduce isolation; to identify those of us who might need assistance; to support each other through illness and other challenges. Neighbors will likely be in a better position to grab groceries for one another if needed, for example. And during this time of virtual church, when we won’t be seeing each other in our building, it will be good to be tuning in to how we’re doing.
To start, we want to provide support for cluster groups to meet online weekly using our Zoom application. This is meant to be an opportunity to check in, to identify needs, to be in community. It is not an extra meeting with task assignments, or a requirement. We can share skills and resources. We can provide physical support within neighborhoods, such as grocery shopping, or offering rides. We can increase our accessibility, continuing our conversation about making Westside more accessible to all, including those who feel isolated.
Please stay tuned to your email as you are able, for details about the formation of our Congregational Care Clusters. If you know of someone in our congregation who isn’t using email, please contact our office so that we can find other ways of including them. Also, the clusters will be developed using the contact information we have for members. If there are friends of Westside who are not yet members but would like to be included in our cluster groups, please contact the office.
We look forward to finding new ways to deepen our connections and to strengthen our caring as a beloved community.
Your 2019-2020 Board of Trustees, Rev. Deanna, and Shannon Day