News And Updates

April: Greetings from Pastor Nate

by Pastor Nate Phillips on April 01, 2021

April 2021

Dear Kirk family,

Following last Easter, we shared in a sermon series entitled “Staying Home.” The idea of the series, of course, was to connect our experience of “staying home” for the pandemic, to the concept of “home" in the scriptures.

This spring we will engage a series we are calling “Coming Back.”

In my sermon on Easter Sunday, I suggested, “over the next few months we are going to be returning to a lot of things. . . perhaps the theater, to seeing people’s faces, to our places of work, and even church.”

This series will help us to claim the opportunity to determine the shape of our community — what we care about, what will define us, and what will direct us — as we transition from “Staying Home” to “Coming Back.”

How will we come back?

We will continue to have in-person services by registration, just as we have for the last several months. Thank you for helping us keep up with our COVID precautions — masks and distancing. On Memorial Day weekend, Sunday, May 31, we will begin to host our garden services at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Bring a chair and a blanket!

How will we come back?

If the feasibility study we conducted with CCS Fundraising for our potential “Anniversary Campaign” is any indication, we will be coming back strong. Leadership is still discerning if and how we will move forward with a fundraising effort — and what case elements to include — but, here are a few inspiring numbers from the interviews and anonymous e-survey.

  • Nearly 300 Kirk households participated in the study. This level of involvement nearly doubled the standard response rate CCS experiences in these kinds of studies.

  • Of those that were interviewed, the Kirk surpassed every benchmark of intention to be involved (willing to give, willing to serve, willing to solicit, etc.).

  • Over 90% of those interviewed or surveyed have a positive or very positive impression of the Kirk, which outpaces CCS benchmarks.

  • Only 1% of respondents perceived the case negatively!

  • 71% of families said Kirk in the Hills was their “high” or “highest” philanthropic priority. This is nearly 20% higher than the CCS benchmark.

  • Over 50 families indicated that they have considered the Kirk in their estate plans.

I look forward to seeing how we will step forward into our 75th Anniversary next year, but this was a very challenging year and I did not know what to expect from this study. Needless to say, I am very encouraged by the way are still standing together!

How will we come back?

We will come back with a new Pastor for Mission! Rev. Edwin Estevez officially joins the team this month. He will bring energy and enthusiasm to an already robust outreach and mission effort here at the Kirk. Did you hear the list of Lenten service efforts that I read on Easter Sunday? I know that Pastor Edwin is ready to join in!

How will we come back?

Sadly, we will come back to say goodbye to Rev. Marjorie Wilhelmi. Pastor Marjorie has decided to officially retire and enjoy time with her husband. We are so grateful to Marjorie for her presence and care during her time as parish associate here at the Kirk. I have personally enjoyed her friendship and sage advice and I will miss her very much. She writes to all of you below.

Pastor Marjorie will offer a sermon and we will say our “official” goodbyes on Sunday, May 9. That said, I keep telling her ... don’t be surprised if I keep begging you to come back and teach a class or lead a retreat!

Stay warm,
Pastor Nate

From Marjorie:
The time has come, the Walrus said. . . or, in the words of Ecclesiastes, to everything there is a season.

It was just over two years ago that Pastor Nate and I met for a casual conversation over coffee. I had just retired from full- time ministry and had many plans for how I would fill my days. Although none of those plans included Parish Associate at the Kirk in the Hills, when Pastor Nate invited me into that role, a little voice in my heart and head whispered clearly: “Say yes!” And so I did! What a beautiful gift these two years have been. I have been honored to serve with such talented and dedicated pastors and staff. I have been filled with joy and delight to meet you, this wonderful family of faith, and to craft some lasting relationships. The energy, vision, generosity and love of this congregation, the passion of your outreach and service beyond your walls, the compassion and care you display for one another, your thirst for ongoing intellectual engagement with your faith, not to mention the beauty of worship and music, have all uplifted my soul and given me hope and joy.

And yet, the time has come for me to open space in my life for the newness that I feel I’m being called to now. Yes, I’m going to give retirement another try. Serving as part of the Kirk has been a privilege for which I am deeply grateful. Although I will no longer be on the staff, I will not say goodbye. Pastor Nate has graciously left the door open — who knows when you might see me offering that class on theology we talked about, or leading a retreat some day?

Thank you, Kirk in the Hills, for the gift you have been to me. You will hold a huge space in my heart forever.

In Christ’s love,


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