Addressing Anxiety

Dearly Beloved,

You hear a lot about my gratitude. But the truth is, there is much in our community to be grateful for. This week, In particular, I am grateful for the leadership of Rev. Rae Karim of our 10-week grief group and for all who have participated. I am grateful for our Re-entry team's excellent email that went out to update us about COVID. I am also incredibly grateful for our youth leaders Daniel and Sara Gardner who have asked our very own Julie Ferguson, a licensed clinical social worker with a specialization in treating youth to speak to our youth about mental health, specifically about how to respond to self harm behavior in friends and peers. 

Now grief, COVID protocols and youth mental health (and specifically self harm) are all topics that can bring up anxiety. It's easy to want to avoid conversations, like these, that make us feel uncomfortable. But in all three of these cases, our congregation is choosing to tackle these topics head on: to address them directly. And this is a characteristic of a healthy congregation: addressing anxiety (or anxiety-inducing topics) directly. 

I've watched our congregation grow tremendously in this area. Over the last couple of years, we have addressed directly such anxiety producing topics as: our church's finances, what to do with the property we rent out just north of the church, how to worship safely during a pandemic, what we believe about including LGBTQ+ individuals in our congregation and whether or not to become Open and Affirming. There have been numerous times when my sermons have touched on points of anxiety -- I know that. The point is that more and more: we are addressing anxiety directly -- naming what we are afraid of or anxious about. Bringing conflict or disagreement to the fore of our conversations instead of avoiding it at all costs. In so doing, we are becoming a healthier congregation. And I am so grateful!

This Sunday, as we celebrate the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who courageously addressed anxiety-inducing topics head-on, we will explore how God calls us into challenging discussions and actions. And we are invited to address our fears (and one another's) directly. I hope you'll join us!

With love and blessings,