Architectural detail of window arches on Old South Church in Boston

News & Announcements

July Updates from the Senior Minister

Dear Old South Church:

First and foremost: how are you? As the economy craters and jobs are fewer and fragile, as the pandemic holds us in its vice grip, as our nation faces a long overdue reckoning, these are hard, hard days. Please do let us know if you are struggling. We have resources.

Some news:

Our amazing Pastoral Resident, Amo Ngoepe - whose photogenic presence and whose words in sermon and prayer have so moved us - is the victim of a backed up, chaotic, and miserly US visa system. Her work visa expires on July 15th. Despite the best efforts of an immigration attorney we don't see it getting renewed any time soon. This means that as of July 15th we can't pay Amo and she can't work for us. She is otherwise supported (living expenses, etc) and plans to remain here, hoping things will get worked out. With respect to Old South Church, she is in a two-year program (ending in July of 2021). Therefore, with the advice of the attorney, we will shift her title to Volunteer Pastoral Resident and she will only do those things we can reasonably, and by precedent, defend as things that volunteers do. So, sad to say, you will be seeing less of her in worship leadership.

Old South member and spouse of Nancy Richardson, Elaine Huber, died this past week. Elaine was a few days past her 90th birthday. Living in their retirement community in Cincinnati, Nancy is surrounded by both family and friends. Elaine's remains will be inurned in our Columbarium at a future time.

May the angels in heaven welcome you, Elaine.
May you find safe harbor, profound rest and peace.
May you shine in heaven as you shone on earth.

Under the advice of our Covid-19 Blue Ribbon Task Force, we can now have up to 15 people in a room, masked, keeping a 6-foot distance from each other. Therefore, starting this week Old South Church is host to a children's day camp, a technology camp. The camp has been with us during the summer months for many years. Obviously, this year is different. While the camp would like to operate with 30 children (ten to a class) and while we have the space to safely accommodate that number (using Mary Norton Hall, the fourth floor, and the third floor) only sixteen campers signed up. This is an important data point for us as we are testing both how we can manage virus-safe protocols and as we learn who is willing to venture out into communal activities. So far, our virus-safe protocols seem to be working and the campers are having a lot of fun. We see this day camp a test-run as we consider how to open the Old South Preschool in the fall. The virus-mandated protocols are daunting but our Preschool director and teachers, in conversation with our operations staff, are working it all through, detail by detail.

Also, starting this week, from 11 am to 2 pm, we are opening the back of the Sanctuary for visitors. As in grocery stores, there is a one-way path for visitors (in one door, out another), a ten-person limit, 6-foot spacing, masks are required, etc. We had seven visitors on Monday and ten on Tuesday. These are baby steps by which we are learning how to safely operate in this new normal.

I earlier mentioned that we are in a season of reckoning with our nation's original sin of racism. To that end, we are urging every single member and friend of Old South Church to read Ibram X. Kendri's HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST. I have almost finished it. It is a must-read. Please also note that throughout July our Community Hours will focus on race and racism. All three films, listed below, are easily accessed. Let us be a learning, a searching, a confessing, and a redressing community.

Sundays at 11 am, through the month of July
Join us, as we discuss the following powerful films through the lens of Christian Faith.

7/12: Akeelah and the Bee - Tells the story of Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer), an 11-year-old girl who participates in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, her mother (Angela Bassett), her schoolmates, and her coach, Dr. Joshua Larabee (Laurence Fishburne).

7/19: Hidden Figures - Loosely based on the 2016 non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about black female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race. The film stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and other missions. The film also features Octavia Spencer as NASA supervisor and mathematician Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monae as NASA engineer Mary Jackson, with Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell, and Mahershala Ali in supporting roles.

7/26: 13th - Explores the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States; it is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction of a crime.

Nancy S Taylor
Senior Minister
(617) 536-1970 ext 222