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Dear Ones of Trinity and Beyond,

You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers everyday.
You are treasured in my heart.
Also treasured, is this beautiful place in the world we are privileged to live.
Last Tuesday, Patricia and I continued our walks exploring places we haven’t yet walked.
That day it was Good Harbor Bay area.  It was grand.  
I did get my bare feet in Great Lake Michigan . . . and I am here to tell you, the water is still cold.
On the way home we passed a magnificent bed of tulips in glorious bloom on M22:
They are a symbol of hope, promise, new life.
Trinity remains a community of faith who are maintaining and practicing precautions in the midst of COVID-19.
Some of you are writing cards or telephoning members and friends.
Some of you are delivering meals or providing rides for those in need of transportation.
Some of you are sending bouquets of flowers.
Some of you are writing poems for everyone or letters for your children.
Some of you are praying.
Some of you are singing.
Some of you are crying.
Some of you are reading.
Some of you are planting.
Some of you are . . .
The promise of Trinity’s new life both “in the midst” and beyond
is as sure to me “in our midst” as the blossoms of the tulips above.
We continue to be the church with each other and in the larger community.
Thank you for all your many new, and ancient, faith-filled ways.
We will not yet be gathering for worship in our Sacred Space tomorrow.
The date for, and method of, reopening has not yet been determined.
The Council meets on Wednesday, June 3.
Among the items on their agenda that day
will be discussion of the steps toward a faith-full gradual reopening of our building to you and others.
For now, we are following the recommendations of our UCC national leaders.
In a pastoral letter this past week to all the UCC churches they are encouraging us
to take great care with each other in these times.
Those of you with strong memories may recognize the name of one of those who signed the letter,
Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson.
She was the preacher at Trinity’s worship, May 22, 2016,  the day I was installed to serve as your pastor:

Should Churches Return to Worship in Their Sanctuaries? 

A Pastoral letter from the Leadership of the Wider United Church of Christ

As the country debates how, when, and under what circumstances life might return to normal, leaders in every setting of the church are deliberating about returning to their sanctuaries for worship.

As leaders in the United Church of Christ, we want to send a clear and strong message to congregations who are considering going back to meeting in person: We urge you to wait until ALL safety concerns have been addressed.We want to offer what guidance we can about issues you should consider in your deliberations.

We are sure that, like us, you have been inundated with materials about the COVID-19 virus. Some of it seems to be contradictory at times. Much of it is being and has been politicized. Discerning fact from fiction can be tricky. We would like to share with you the resources that we have found helpful in our own deliberations, as well as any wisdom we have that could be useful to you. 

Among the most impactful articles we have seen is “The Risks—Know Them—Avoid Them,” by Erin Bromage. The article talks in great detail about how the virus is spread and mentions in particular how church life which we experience as normal could prove to be a threat to our worshipers. We strongly encourage you to read this as a part of your decision-making process. Here is the link to that article.

Of all the things we could say, we lead with this principle: Please make every decision based on how it will affect the most vulnerable among you. Many of us will be able to attend services and activities as fully healthy, low-risk individuals. Others, though, will come out of a deep love for and obligation to their church, deciding to take a risk in order to be back with their church family. We urge you to keep that in mind as you process your decisions.

Conference leaders have sent guidance to their churches about the process of deciding how and when to return. We, as national and regional leaders are encouraging churches to consult their Conference website for materials relevant to their setting for ministry.

In a recent email, the Rev. Nigel Uden, Moderator of the United Reformed Church (United Kingdom), offered his prayerful support. In it, he wrote about a deacon of the church in Coventry. That deacon was trying to persuade a young pastor to serve that church in the decade that followed not only the Second World War, but the utter annihilation of the city of Coventry at the hands of the Germans. Their precious church was laid bare. What the deacon said to the young pastor convinced him to come and serve: “There is nothing in this church that cannot be changed as long as the Gospel is preached and the Kingdom of God extended.” 

Those words have proven to be quite precious and prescient. They have reminded us that when the world forces change upon us, and with it the tremendous burden of grief and loss, our task remains but this: preach the Gospel and extend the Kindom. No matter what we decide in the coming days, even if it means sheltering in place a while longer, the gospel will be preached and the realm of God will grow through our efforts.

In the words of Julian of Norwich, written from her cell at the church in Norwich that was built as her own shelter in the time of the Plague: “All shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of thing shall be well.”



The Council of Conference Ministers United Church of Christ

The National Officers of the United Church of Christ

The Rev. Dr. John C.  Dorhauer 
General Minister and President               
The Rev. Traci Blackmon
Associate General Minister, Justice and Local Church Ministries
The Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson
Associate General Minister, Wider Church Ministries
So, “in the midst” I encourage you to continue to be the church with each other.
And I thank you for your patience with our process of faithful discernment about when and how we will reopen.
Please do feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns – 218-269-4466.
Tomorrow at 11:00 am, you will receive this week’s Sunday Online Meditation.
Monday, there will not be Northport’s usual and customary Memorial Day Gathering at the cemetery.
Instead, the Village will celebrate Memorial Day in a unique way.
You are invited to attend this event.
Most people will attend in their car and listen with their windows down from their parked car.
Walkers are expected to honor and practice social distancing of six feet or more between those who are not family.
The Northport Community Band, with the support and encouragement of their director, Don Wilcox, the dedication of their Board, and the organizational excellence of Carrie Waddis have arranged for “TAPS” to be played by a variety of their members through Northport beginning at 11:00 am.  The first player will play at the southern entrance sign to Northport.  And then another member will play one-tenth of a mile north.  This will continue all the way through the Village and end up at the cemetery near the flagpoles.  This will be a unique honoring of military women and men who have sacrificed theirlives in service to our nation.  This year, for many of us, its significance is broadened to include the honoring of lives of the nearly 100,000 in our nation who have died as a result of COVID-19.  
If you wish to express your thanks to the Northport Community Band for this gift of “TAPS through the Village,” they encourage you to make a donation to Northport Performing Arts Center:  https://www.facebook.com/northportcommunityartscenter/.
You are beloved,
Phil Garrison

March 19, 2020

Dear Ones of Trinity and beyond,

The March winds blew in Northport today, on Friday, March 13, and the sun shone intermittently. 
Patricia and I walked briefly at Houdak Dunes Natural Area.
We decided to head home early because of the icy/slippery trail.
not before I got this picture of the Dune near the top of the stairs into the trail.  
So magnificent was the sun.  
So magnificent is the sand.  
So magnificent is the coming Spring.
You are hearing from everywhere about mitigation plans in this time of the coronavirus pandemic.
I do know that you care deeply about Trinity UCC, Northport, Leelanau County, Michigan, the USA, the world . . . and I want to keep you informed of recent developments regarding Trinity’s response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.  
Based on conversations with the Trinity Council, church colleagues in Northport, the Michigan Conference UCC as well as colleagues in other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, as well as Michigan and Leelanau County Health Departments, Trinity has decided upon several actions to safeguard you and the larger community.
As of this email there are no cases of COVID-19 among the Trinity congregation or reported yet in northwest Michigan.  These pro-active measures have been decided upon to help slow the spread of the disease and protect our very vulnerable community of members and friends.
We have suspended worship in the Trinity sanctuary from March 15 through Palm Sunday on April 5.
There will be no worship or choir practice during these weeks, nor meetings of the Girl Scouts, RagBee, the Tuesday Study Club, Patricia’s Exercise Group, the Lion’s Club or other community meetings.  The remaining Lenten Soup Suppers at St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church, Bethany Lutheran and Trinity have also been canceled.
You will receive more information about Holy Week and Easter plans as those plans are determined.
It is true Trinity has been a beacon of light in Northport since 1863.  
it is true 
we continue 
to be a beacon of light
in 2020.
This time of not gathering in our sacred space is not a dimming of that light but rather it is a protection of that light . . . and of your light as well.
Please do stay at home if you are not feeling well.  
Contact your physicians’s office by phone if you need medical assistance.
Remember to wash your hands with soap often, even at home
If you need assistance in getting groceries, a prescription, or some other errand, give me a call on my cell phone 1-218-269-4466.  
I will find someone to help you. 
If you want a pastoral visit or have a pastoral emergency give me a call on my cell phone 1-218-269-4466 and I will respond.
Janet will be in the Trinity office fewer hours over these four weeks, but she will respond to phone calls and emails within 48 to 72 hours.
Unless you request to not be included in these weekly emails (simply reply to this one with the request, “take me off this list”), you will receive a short email meditation from me on one of the lectionary scriptures of the week for your thought and reflection.  Nancy Flanagan will send me a link to one or two music recordings for you to listen to as well. This week the text will be the story from the Gospel of John of the woman at the well and Jesus in conversation.  The text is, John 4:7-10 . . . ohhh, and being me, you will also see these words from Psalm 91:1-5: “God will deliver you from the snare and the deadly pestilence.”  My email will be sent to those who get this email (unless you request to opt out) at 11:00 am on each of the next four Sundays, March 15, 22, 29 and April 5.  
Trinity does know of several who do not have internet access or email.  
These members and friends will receive a printed version of this email along with the printed meditation in a new card created each week.
We can be in conversation with each other by way of video-conferencing on the internet – a ZOOM meeting – or by audio-conferencing by calling in on your phone.
This will be a time to say “hello” to each other in person each week and will resemble the prayer time in worship we know of as “Joys and Concerns.”
As we do in worship, you can share your Joys and Concerns with each other through these on-line connections:  Trinity Wednesdays at 6:51 pm.
We will end these calls with 60 seconds of quiet prayer followed by the Lord’s Prayer.
I will explain the time of “6:51” at our first ZOOM Conversation on March 18 at 6:51.
These calls will be no longer than a half hour.
Here is how you can join in the conversation this Wednesday, March 18 @ 6:47  pm (or so).
(the link for the conversation on subsequent Wednesdays will be in the email [or snail mail] sent to you over the next few Sundays {or Mondays}):
Join Zoom Meeting Trinity Wednesdays at 6:51 on your computer by clicking on this link around 6:45 pm:
Meeting ID: 140 878 462
or call in on your phone for audio participation only:
the meeting id and passcode are as listed above for internet access.
My ZOOM account allows for up to 100 people to join this TRINITY WEDNESDAYS at 6:51 conversation.  
Many of you who have been around Northport for a couple decades or more will know of Nancy Peterson, her husband Patrick, and their three children who graduated from Northport High School (each as Valedictorian) Pohai, Nina, and Fiona.  In 2019, Nancy published her first book, Dear Husband:  Letters To An Addict,  She gave me a signed copy several months ago,  I just finished reading it today.  Sorry it took me so long, Nancy!  I am glad, in the end, to have read every word from cover to cover!  
Yes, I am!!!
On page 269 Nancy Peterson includes this poem by Julia A. Carey:  “Little Things”.
The poem is worthy of our reading and savoring in these days and nights of COVID-19 . . . 
well . . . 
and other times too:
Little Things
Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the beauteous land.
And the little moments,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages 
Of eternity.
Little deeds of kindness.
Little words of love,
Make on earth an Eden.
Like the Heaven above.
– Julia A. Carey
Your ongoing support of Trinity UCC, Northport, MI,  in these times is appreciated.
Give me a call
phil garrison
pastor, Trinity UCC, Northport, MI