With urgency, let us dare to go forth to be and experience the heart of God in the world…


A Letter from Pastor Andy

August 5, 2020

Dear U Park Family,

Each week, I begin my Wednesday letter with those words. I usually start my Friday Facebook videos with a similar greeting, something like, “Hi there, U Park Family.” In doing so, I’m following a long tradition of depicting Christian faith communities as families – in fact, as I’ll say in my sermon on Sunday, that tradition probably originated with Jesus himself. But family, like church, can mean very different things today than it did in the first century Mediterranean world in which Jesus and his followers lived. For some of us, to compare the church to a family conjures ideals of warmth and belonging. For others, the church is too much like our families of origin – places where being fully ourselves was not allowed, emotional or even physical abuse was the norm, and deviation of any kind from family expectations was punished. I hope you’ll join us in our YouTube online worship on Sunday as we continue our worship series on “Being the Church” by reflecting on the benefits and pitfalls of thinking of the church as a family.

This past week, we began our small, in-person worship services with one service on Thursday evening and one on Saturday morning. The services were informal and much more interactive than our normal Sundays, and I felt deeply blessed to be in worship with the groups who attended. People stayed for nearly an hour after each service just to be able to talk in person. We’ll continue to offer those worship opportunities, experimenting with time and location so that we can find what works best for our church. Eventually, we’ll move back into the Sanctuary for worship (and our Sanctuary is the bad weather backup location for our present services). Next week, we’ll hold our second round of courtyard services on Thursday the 13th and Saturday the 20th. We’ll decide on times by tomorrow and let you know. Kevin Flomberg-Rollins, our church administrator, has set up another online SignUpGenius so that we can limit attendance at each service to minimize contagion risk. He will add times to the sign-up tomorrow.

I hope you’ll join us this Thursday evening (tomorrow) at 5:30 in the church courtyard for a discussion on race and equity, led by John Riley and Kathy Coble. Many in our church have sought some meaningful way to respond to our current national reckoning on race, and this will be an opportunity to explore how we might engage that work. We’ll have a second gathering on Thursday, August 20 as well. If you’re going to attend, please register online at SignUpGenius. As in our worship, this allows us to cap our attendance to minimize contagion risk. We’ll be taking video of this conversation for those who can’t attend but want to know what was discussed.

I’ve been conscious this week of just how blessed we are at University Park – by our history and our people and all the ways we can serve the Kindom of Heaven. Thanks for your support of and participation in our ministry. I hope you’re well and that we get to see each other online or in person soon.

Grace and Peace,


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