The Rev. Joseph Mantovani
This report was completed by The Rev. Jeanne Warfield and The Rev. Joseph Mantovani
We Are Resilient TOGETHER
In “the before times,” the Western Queens Conference covered a lot of geography. Now we don’t seem as far apart. In February 2020 WQ Conference hosted “A Taste of Growing in Faith”: a one-day adult education event (using our MNYS Diakonia program as a resource). An MNYS Leadership Grant and financial support from Diakonia made the day possible.
Throughout NY on PAUSE, Western Queens Conference congregations worshipped with innovation, engaged faith formation with imagination, educated day school students (caring for their families), and showed that God cares for people by caring for people. We’ve opened up to one another even as our buildings had to wait for renewed use. What’s come of this?
- Leaning into ancient faithful practices done in novel ways (morning & evening prayer online; sharing Zoom worship as partnering congregations; online 2020 and 2021 Conference-wide Triduum observance)
- Learning to listen authentically and shifting our sense of one another (WQC Young Adult gathering 3/2020 [Pre-PAUSE]; naming internalized systemic racism experiences and praying together)
- Living to use the power we have to empower others (extending food assets – Stacey’s Pantry; WQC Wed night prayer time open to all; online Carol-Sing; Zoom game nights).
- Congregations have focused on building repairs, found ways to sustain schools and other ministries, and engaged with partners and technology
- We celebrate the growing role of many of our deacons, who have found inspiration and churches to live out their faith and calling
- Long-time neighbors have found new ways to engage: Grace FH & Trinity MV, further grew a partnership through 2020 Lent (together, then together apart), shared Zoom Sunday School experiences, 2020 Christmas Eve “in-3-spaces” (simulcast online and onsite outdoors at each property! And then 2021 Lent online together – proof Lutherans can change!)
After continued advocacy and watching what the Spirit is doing in the community, our youngest faith community, under the name Todos los Santos, deepens its place in peoples’ hearts. A redeveloped Avenue Diner, Jamaica Ave, is to become its physical mission outpost. They grow in promises kept and a changing world.
We Are Hopeful TOGETHER
The past 2 years have brought about a new level of prayer together, which is leading to cooperation, collaboration, and mutual support. New and diverse lay leaders, deacons and pastors are becoming more bold in their work, care for the community and working together to be sites of light in dark and anxious times. It is our prayerful hope that this will continue and shape the next challenging years. This faith partnership will be tested as this is a time of transition for us. Our conference has given thanks for and marked the upcoming retirements of Pastor Jeanne Warfield (Grace, Forest Hills) and Pastor Bill Baum (St Barnabas, Howard Beach). We are also recognizing the departures of Pastor Karen Kuttler and Pastor Roz Brathwaite. We continue to give thanks for their time in our conference and continue to pray for them, their loved ones, and their communities.
God's Work. Our Hands, TOGETHER
You tell us what you are thinking about doing, a need you see and we will find a way, people and place to get started. We have seen a great outpouring of support for Stacey's Pantry (a ministry of St Jacobus and the work of many congregations, organizations and neighbors). We have worked with almost 200 volunteers from 25 plus countries, 20 churches and other organizations as we have sustained an over 1000 % increase in people served throughout the pandemic. We have also seen great and committed involvement in virtual prayer meetings and other multi-congregation ministries.