President’s Report

“Patience, resilience, and empathy.”  That is my “elevator speech” about what the last year has been like for me personally, and in my role as president of our Board of Trustees!  But since this is a newsletter, I will share a few additional thoughts (including gratitude) about our Emerson experience during a time of multiple concurrent pandemics.

As I’ve said many times, I am so grateful for all the work that Reverend Matthew, our Worship Associates, and our webcasting technology team have done over the course of the last 16 months to make sure that our worship services each week are meaningful opportunities for us to breathe, reset, and be together after what have been extremely challenging weeks.  It’s been wonderful to see a number of new folks joining us at services, too, and I’m excited to meet them in person when we reopen for in – person services.  (More on that in a moment.) At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, I worried that perhaps many people would drift away and it would be difficult for Emerson to remain vibrant. I’m so pleased to have been wrong, and to even see attendance at our services and meetings generally be higher than they were before the pandemic started!

The coming year gives me great optimism. While I expected that we would be able to join together again for in-person events and services in September, the Board of Trustees has decided to wait at least another month before making any final decisions because of the prevalence of new COVID cases resulting from the Delta variant.   That said, the recent award to Emerson of a Spirit Level Grant, will allow us to conduct hybrid online/in-person Sunday services.  I hope that this flexibility will allow for some of us to be together in person sooner than we otherwise could have, while allowing others to participate from the comfort of their homes.  I also hope that this new technology will allow for our community to stay even better connected for meetings and events throughout each week (and who knows… maybe we’ll find some new members and friends who aren’t able to be in Canoga Park with us regularly!)  We also have a great new Office Administrator, Deborah Posner, who is helping get our office reorganized, upgrade our membership management resources, line up contractors for buildings/grounds work, get our E-Blasts out on time, and so much more.

Our new member management system, Breeze, is up and running and it was used to organize an event for the first time over the summer — the grounds cleanup day. It will be great to have a single source of member contact information and event planning resources to support religious education, periodic volunteer activities, and help us account for pledges from members and friends more accurately.

What gives YOU optimism about the coming year? What are your hopes for the deepening of fellowship in our community? What gives you pause and concern? I hope that you’ll consider sharing these thoughts with me via email or phone.  I also hope that for those engaged in Small Group Ministries, you’ll share these thoughts with one another, as well as your sense of when and how it is best for us to come back together for in -person events and services.