Dear Class of 2020: Graduating High School/College Senior and others, I hate the reason I am writing you. Graduation is supposed to be one of the most joyful and meaningful rites of passage in life. And yet, this global pandemic has robbed you of the fullness of this experience. This hit home for me recently during a Zoom meeting. Suddenly, a young adult I know dashed across the background of her mother’s computer screen. She is graduating from high school. My mind raced and my heart filled with all she is missing: proms, college trips, ceremonies, parties. Again, the reality of this global disaster flooded over me. However, I will not let this tragedy have the final word! I believe in God, and while I may not have been literally present, I made a promise to you at your baptism and confirmation---"to support you in your life with Christ.” Thus, I am writing to you for two reasons. First of all, with this note comes my prayer for you. Amid all that is being lost, I pray you will remember what is most important, and what is most important is you. Your life matters, and nothing in this world can snatch the eternal and absolute value of who you are and who you will be in the future. So do not lose heart, and when you do lose heart, know that I will believe for you. And I ask that you believe for me, too. This is what faith does; we find strength in each other. This faith brings me to the second reason for this note. We want to celebrate your accomplishment. I know that any attempt to do so will fall short of what you had hoped for in the next month. Still, your life matters, and because of the promise of support we made for you, we are compelled to try. So here is what we want to do. We want to celebrate the class of 2020, specifically all those in the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast who are graduating from high school, college, post-secondary educational institution, or basic military training. To do so, we ask you to send us via email two photos: 1] a “formal” picture of you; and 2] an “informal” pic that depicts who you are. Have some fun with the second one! With these photos send us: a] your name; b] the school/institution from which you are graduating; c] the name of your church; and d] a brief prayer request for you. Email this to Jennifer Johnson, Communications Missioner, at email@example.com. Please do this by Monday, May 4, 2020. We will distribute the finished “digital annual” to the entire diocese. It will be an important historical record of the class of 2020. Even more, it will be a visible sign today to the rest of us of our hope in the future that your life holds. We want to celebrate your life, please help us to do so. Remember, God made you. God knows you by your name and loves you. And no matter where you go or what you go through, God will never lose you. Amen.