June 2020


I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.

--Matthew 28:20


Dear First Reformed Family,


What a time these last few months have been.


None of us expected the kind of interruption of all that we knew to be normal like we have felt since March.  We have all had to adapt and adjust our lives like never before as we sought to move forward in our new reality.  Here at First Reformed we have been working to balance our call to serve the community around us and our call to safety and public health.  To that end, we suspended in-person worship in the middle of March, but continue to gather for worship online!  You can view our services by clicking the link on our website.


Early in the pandemic, we helped facilitate the donation of perishable supplies from businesses that were suddenly closing to families that could use the food, particularly those who rely on the school system for meals.  We also celebrated our 3 year anniversary of Manna Café by offering a special “to-go” Manna Café in our parking lot! While we missed the opportunity to sit down and have real conversations, we were grateful for the chance to see the faces that have become family to us.


While Governor Murphy has relaxed restrictions on in-person gatherings, we still want to be sure that we are keeping safety in the forefront of our decisions of how and when to gather.  We are currently in the process of discerning what it looks like to move forward.  Updated information can always be found on our website and our phone voicemail message.  We also make an effort to call folks who actively come to in-person worship services to let them know our plans—if you want to be placed on that list, please let us know!


In the midst of all this, there is another piece of news that we have been facing as a congregation.  Due to work opportunities that have come up for my spouse, Mads, we are moving to Minneapolis, MN, in July.  We will spend the end of June visiting my family in Virginia before making the trip out to the Midwest.


This was an enormously difficult decision for us.  While we recognize the call of God leading us away, there is a large part of us that does not want to leave South River.  It has been an honor and a joy to serve this congregation and wider community.  I could not have asked for a place to welcome us more fully.  I could not have asked for a church more willing to do the work of being Christ’s hands and feet in the community.  I could not have asked for a group of people more committed to living out what it means to be church.  The many things I have experienced and learned here at South River are ones I will treasure in my heart for years to come.


I have said it before and I will say it again: I cannot believe that God would call Mads and I away from here without also having a call in mind for South River.  I wish I could be here to see what is next.  As the Consistory begins the process of looking for a pastor, I know that whoever comes next will bring South River to a place that none of us can even imagine.  The Spirit is going before us to pave the way for someone, and that Spirit will continue to bind us together in the family of Christ, no matter how far apart we may be.


Thank you all for your support and prayers over the years.


Grace upon grace,

Colleen Toole

First Reformed Church of South River

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