■ In-person worship each Sunday at 10 a.m.
With colder weather, we will plan to worship in the sanctuary.
■ Online worship at 10 a.m. or anytime after that
“Again and again.”
That phrase can bring negative connotations. Disappointments — again and again. Hurts — again and again. Our sinful behaviors — again and again. We fail God — again and again.
But God’s again and again shows up, bringing us life and hope and love and grace and freedom. We are not left alone in the downward spiral of again and again.
Our Lenten theme is “Again & Again.” From Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday we will look at and celebrate God’s “Again & Again.”
Swift Presbyterian Church offers Lenten devotionals in a variety of forms from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. These devotionals relate to our weekly worship theme of “Again & Again.”
■ 1. A printed booklet. Each week offers: commentary, poetry, visual art, written reflections, and coloring pages. We encourage you to walk through these weekly readings at your own pace throughout the season, following the rhythm that works best for you. The devotional features biblical commentary by the Rev. T. Denise Anderson, coordinator for racial and intercultural justice with the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
■ 2. Daily devotional cards. Cultivate a frequent rhythm of prayer with our daily devotional cards. Select a card each day of Lent beginning with Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday. Contemplate the word you select each day, trusting that it is exactly what you need for that moment. Then read the short scripture, reflection prompts, and prayer on the back of the card. We hope these cards encourage you to come to God in prayer again and again throughout the entire Lenten season. This is a great daily devotional for middle- and high-school youth, college students, young adults, and adults of all ages.
You can choose number 1 or 2 or 1 and 2. Let us know which you would like to receive so we can prepare them for you. Email or phone the church or make a notation on the cards provided in worship. We must have this information no later than Sunday, Feb. 7. If you want the devotionals via text or email, please make sure the church office has your correct information. We can also send via internet to your friends and family with the correct information.
Lent begins. Again & Again, We’re Invited In
In person or at home
Again & Again, God Meets Us
Again & Again, We Are Called To Listen
Again & Again, We Are Shown the Way
Again & Again, God Loves First
Again & Again, We Are Reformed
Again & Again, We Draw On Courage
Again & Again, We Are Held Together
John 13:1–17, 31b–35
Again & Again, We Find Ourselves Here
Again & Again, The Sun Rises
►More on COVID-19 and worship
What a joy it is to be able to worship in person, even as we strive to follow safe practices during this time of pandemic. In response to some questions we’ve been asked, here is information about decisions regarding worship and why they are made.
There are necessary precautions when we gather for worship. Obvious ones are masks, distance, and sanitizer. These are visible. These are in place in many (if not most) other places — work, shopping, dining. Other noticeable changes are offering collection and the way communion is served. What is less visible, and therefore less known, is the combination of time, location, air circulation, and vocal expression. Our worship leadership makes decisions with these concerns in mind.
■ Without question, the safest way to worship is online. But that is less than ideal for many people. We are beginning to look at ways to effectively live-stream Sunday worship instead of pre-recording.
■ Another way, without undue risk, is to worship in person but without congregational singing or speaking. Inhalation is the main mode of transmission of the coronavirus.
Aerosols are emitted by a person infected with coronavirus — even one with no symptoms — when they talk, breathe, sing, cough, or sneeze. The more forcefully we speak, sing or cough, the farther these aerosols fly. Another person can breathe in these aerosols and become infected with the virus. These particles can remain in the air for up to three hours. We tried a few weeks to worship with congregational silence and it was unsatisfactory for almost everyone.
■ Our goal is to limit worship to 45 minutes or less because of inside air circulation.
We made adaptations to limit, but not remove, spoken/sung involvement. To accomplish this, we reduce the number of verses sung, the number of hymns sung and/or the amount of other congregational vocal participation. Examples: On Jan. 17, we omitted the hymn following the sermon. That allowed an opportunity to recite the Apostles’ Creed. On Jan. 24, we had a responsive call to worship followed by a brief sung chorus. These are intentional decisions made weekly. With this in mind, some of your favorite or essential components of worship may be removed from time to time. Also, we have stopped asking for spoken prayer concerns — for time and voice reasons. You may still write these on the prayer request forms in the pews or contact the office.
Worship is to glorify God. To physically gather with the community of faith the Swift worship leadership continually seeks ways that (as best we can) balance safety with vocal participation, faith affirmation, singing, and time. Let us know your suggestions that may safely enhance our weekly worship.
For those who attend in person worship, we are glad to see you. For those who prefer online worship, we are glad to make that ongoing ministry available for you.
MUSIC NOTES Lisa Cardwell | music director
Our handbell choir is preparing to play in worship on Feb. 7. The ringers are preparing “Wonderful, Merciful Savior” and “A Celtic Ring.” Also playing that day will be a handbell quartet. They will play “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”
If anyone would like to prepare a vocal or instrumental solo (or duet) for one of our online worship services, please let Lisa know. It doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be a simple hymn. The Swift family and friends would love it.
Jenni and Lisa meet and rehearse their piano duets weekly as well as record music for the online services. They strive to pick out a variety of traditional hymns as well as contemporary music. They appreciate the positive response that they have received.
Only in your email ...
The emailed newsletters contain the 2021 budget, a list of phone numbers for church officers, and a directory update. These were sent out on Jan. 29.
As you know, unfortunately, our “Two or More” fellowship lunch and Butterfly Girls and Guys Night Out have been canceled until we can all get together again without the fear of spreading this pandemic. Hopefully, it will be safe to get back together again soon.
Mission and service
►Church treasurer transition
The church, session and staff send a message of great thanks to Lynn Aspray for her years of ministry to the church as treasurer. She was in the office on Monday mornings and other times whenever needed, posting checks, balancing accounts, writing checks and keeping the overall finances of the church in shape. Lynn decided to retire from that position. She will be missed in that role, although she will continue to be active in the life of the church.
The Swift Session is responsible for securing a treasurer. They, in conjunction with the finance/personnel committee, hired Sena Cooper, one of our administrative assistants, to also serve as treasurer. Lynn worked with Sena for the past three months making that transition. Lynn has stepped back now that W-2s and contribution reports are sent out.
Sena works alternate weeks. On alternate Tuesday mornings, Sena will post checks, balance accounts, write checks, make a deposit, and keep the overall finances of the church in shape. Any checks that come via postal service will be deposited on Fridays of Sena’s work week. I know this sounds confusing, but we’ll all get the hang of it, given time.
Example: The next deposit will be on Tuesday, Feb. 9, with an additional deposit on Friday, Feb. 12. Then again Tuesday, Feb. 23, and an additional one on Friday the 26th.
We are grateful for the dedicated work of both Lynn and now Sena for carrying out the duties of treasurer. Please contact the office if you have questions.
Swift Session met on Jan. 18, in person and via zoom. The meeting began with a reading and reflection from Mark 1:14–20. What does God call us to “leave behind” to be faithful to him? Pastor Keith prayed.
■ We welcomed newly installed elders Susan, Joe and Chuck.
■ We approved the 2021 budget (attached to this newsletter) and heard the final financial report for 2020.
■ We discussed youth/children education. Tracy and Pastor Keith will work together. One item is a confirmation class for 2021.
■ We heard that work will soon be done to remove leaning trees from Hurricane Sally.
■ We addressed the need of the preschool for a washer and dryer to care for infant bedding and clothing. Sent suggestions to preschool of possible options.
■ Did some discussion on committee assignments.
■ Approved reports, minutes.
■ Removed from membership those who have recently died.
The meeting closed with prayer, led by Pastor Jody Beth.
►Whos your deacon?
Swift Church has seven congregational-care deacons and two fellowship deacons.
The congregational-care deacons are Janelle Armbruster, Elinor Gartman, Jane King, Karen Langley, Mary McNair, Betty Sizemore, and Judy Walker. Each of them have a list of people who are part of the Swift Church family — members, and people who are an active part of the Swift community. Their ministry is to care about you.
By now you should know who your deacon is. Five of them are continuing to serve their same list. Two of them are newly installed, so if your deacon was Cheryl Jensen, it is now Karen Langley; and if your deacon was Vicki Elsler, it is now Judy Walker.
The fellowship deacons, Kathy Knipe and Lezli Thomason, are eager to serve but on hold until we host fellowship time after in person worship again.
If you do not know who your deacon is, know that you are being prayed for and cared about. And contact Pastor Jody Beth (251-213-6625) so we can get you connected to your very own deacon.
MISSION REPORT Pate Cardwell and Al Sprouse | mission elders
In January, the pantry assisted 36 families, helping 84 individuals. The food pantry will be open on Feb. 10 and 24.
Special thanks to Dorothy Warren for serving as food pantry director from October through January. Our best wishes to Dorothy as she moves to Tuscaloosa to be closer to her family.
Congratulations to Kathy Menk, who has graciously volunteered to serve as our new food pantry director. Thank you so much for your service.
►Online GriefShare groups
“GriefShare is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences. You don’t have to go through the grieving process alone.”
There are online GriefShare groups meeting, and several of them are with churches in our area. If you think of someone who may be interested, or if you yourself are grieving the loss of a loved one, contact Pastor Jody Beth or visit www.griefshare.org.
Intentional faith development
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION REPORT
►Thursday morning online Bible study
‘The Season of Lent’
Feb. 18 – April 8 • 10 to 11:30 a.m.
We are offering an online Lenten Bible study using Zoom technology*. The study will begin the morning after Ash Wednesday with a brief introduction of the meaning of Lent. Each of the following Thursdays the discussion will be centered on the scriptures and sermon from the previous Sunday’s worship service, which you can attend either in person or online.
*New to Zoom? There will be practice sessions set up that you can log in and learn the basics. Contact Pastor Jody Beth, email@example.com or 251-213-6625, to sign up for the study, a practice session and/or for more information.
►Cheryls adult Sunday school class
Class has started again. We will continue our study of the New Testament with the book of Titus during the month of February. Titus was a special friend of Paul’s. Please wear a mask and we will practice social distancing.
Please come join us in room 2 in the annex at 9 a.m.
— Cheryl Jensen
►Snacks with Susan and Daryl adult Sunday school class
How is the follower of Jesus to understand the words of the Old Testament? How are those words relevant to the New Covenant he is establishing?
What might the words of the Lord’s Prayer have conveyed to his initial followers, and why is that historical information essential to the prayer two millennia later?
Join “Snacks (well, right now … no snacks) with Susan and Daryl” as we continue our study of Sermon on the Mount, a detailed and colorful overview of Matthew 5–7.
Sunday school classes for children and youth, SWAG (Saved with Amazing Grace), GphiG (Glori•fy•ing God), and Refuel will not meet until further notice.
►Please remember to give
Generosity describes the Christian’s unselfish willingness to give in order to make a positive difference for the purposes of Christ. Extravagant generosity describes practices of sharing and giving that exceed all expectations and extend to unexpected measures.
Thank you for your generous pledges and ongoing offerings. Your financial support will enable Swift Church ministry to plan for the coming year. Your support and commitment to our church is greatly appreciated.
The 2020 giving statements are complete and available for pickup in the church office and at the back of the church during Sunday morning worship. If you are unable to come by the church office and would like your statement mailed, please call the office and let us know.
►About online giving
Using your “smart phone” and this box you can connect to the church’s online giving page. You can set up for automatic donations of your tithes or one-time gifts to a number of funds benefiting ministries of Swift Church. Use this by either entering your credit/debit card information or your checking account information. Of course, this is a secure website.
You can also do the same thing by clicking a donation link on the church’s website.
PRESBYTERY OF SOUTH ALABAMA
►Committees being restructured
As a people who like to do things “decently and in order,” Presbyterians have always used committees to organize and accomplish our work together. In the Presbytery of South Alabama, our current committee structure has been in place for many years, but after the approval of the “Future Focus” report in November of 2020, our committees are soon to be restructured. If you have served on a committee of the presbytery over the last few years we thank you for your service and dedication. At the conclusion of our Feb. 20 presbytery meeting, the following six committees will come into existence, becoming our new structure:
■ Mission and evangelism committee, chaired by Rebekah Abel Lamar
■ Education and spiritual development committee, chaired by Kim Vanbrimmer
■ Constitutional and connectional life committee, chaired by Buz Wilcoxon
■ Committee on ministry, care, and congregational nurture, chaired by Anna Fulmer Duke
■ Strategic planning committee, chaired by Casi Callaway
■ Administration and finance committee, chaired by Matt McCullum
You can find a description of each committee on our presbytery website. We are now in the process of filling these new committees with members who will serve in staggered, three-year terms.
►COVID-19 vaccinations at Owa
The Alabama Department of Public Health will conduct drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinics at Owa in Foley, provided vaccine is available.
Dates confirmed at the OWA location are Tuesday, Feb. 2, and Thursday, Feb. 4, depending on vaccine availability. The clinics will operate from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The address is 1501 S. Owa Blvd.
Appointments will not be scheduled for these clinics, and there will be no prior registration. There is no charge for the vaccine; however, individuals must meet one of the following criteria:
■ Be 75 years or older
■ Be a member of law enforcement
■ Be a healthcare worker
■ Be a firefighter
Vaccinations will be provided on a first come, first serve, drive-through basis. Future dates will be announced, depending on vaccine supply. Individuals will need to bring identification.