A letter from Rev. Margarette Ouji (she/they)
Dear First Lutheran of Montclair Community,
As we stand at the threshold between summer and fall, I am grateful for the First Lutheran of Montclair faith community and our continued journey. Seasons change, just as life brings its ebbs and flows, but our unwavering faith in the Creator sustains us through every transition.
I want to introduce a dear colleague and friend who will preside and preach on Sunday mornings while I am on leave. Her first Sunday will be October 8th, and her last Sunday will be November 26th. Please welcome Pastor Stephanie Kershner, who brings wisdom and compassion to our congregation.
For pastoral care emergencies, Pastor Danielle McCleary (she/her) of St. Matthews Secaucus, NJ, will cover for me while I’m on leave.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude towards my colleagues. Their unwavering willingness to step forward and serve is a testament to how the Holy Spirit continues to show up and move in our community. During this period, may we remember the hospitality in the Gospel of Matthew, where God calls us to welcome those we have yet to know and those who may be different from us. May we not forget that hospitality extends beyond the walls of our church building. Our acts of love and compassion are a testament to our faith and reflect the light we carry.
As we approach the fall season and move from this season after Pentecost into Reformation Sunday and All Saints Sunday, let us look forward to moments of reflection and renewal. These occasions remind us of our rich history and the enduring legacy of faith that binds us together. The stories of reformers and saints from generations past inspire us to continue the work of the Gospel with renewed zeal and commitment. Soon, we will embark on the beautiful season of Advent, a time of anticipation and preparation for the birth of our Savior.
As we continue our journey to foster warm hospitality within our community, we are excited to embrace the changing seasons as an opportunity to connect even more deeply. You’re invited to be part of this endeavor by volunteering to provide refreshments for our post-worship fellowship gatherings. There will be a sign-up sheet in the narthex for folks.
As we stand rooted in our baptismal promises, we find ourselves at a juncture where our journey takes on new meaning and purpose.
While our confirmation class will pause for the fall of 2023, we are excited to share the dawn of a new ecumenical youth group, uniting our congregation with other local faith groups. This initiative reflects our commitment to nurturing the seeds of faith and fellowship in the next generation.
As Advent and the winter season approaches, we are reminded of the importance of reaching out to our local families in need. We will actively participate in ministries that provide support, warmth, and hope during these colder months. Our dedication to community service reflects the spirit of love and compassion that flows from our baptismal vows.
I extend a heartfelt invitation to bring forth your hopes and wishes for community outreach. The Church Council leadership is eager to hear your ideas and visions. We firmly believe that God's work is a ministry of the entire church, and it calls upon the unique gifts and talents of each member, not just a select few.
As we navigate this season of change and opportunity, let us remember that our faith is not just a solitary path but a collective journey. Together, we can continue to spread God's love and grace to our community, embodying the true spirit of our baptismal promises.
I have the deepest gratitude for your continued stewardship of this congregation. Your generosity and dedication ensure that our church remains a place of spiritual growth, renewal, and community outreach. With the leadership of the Church Council, the dedicated staff, and Pastor Kershner & Pastor McCleary, I’m confident that these next few months will bring about opportunities for reflection and dreaming of the future.
I eagerly look forward to rejoining our community in December. I covet your prayers and well wishes during the next few months. I look forward to seeing what you and God have been up to upon my return. Let us embrace nature's changing seasons and our faith journey with open hearts in the coming months. We will continue to shine God's light in our community and beyond.
May God's grace and peace be with you all.
With love and blessings,
Rev. Margarette Ouji (she/they)