Dear Ones,

Like you, I and our session have been following the spread of coronavirus with growing concern.  While our area has not had any cases reported yet, it is unrealistic to expect that we will remain unaffected.  Both our federal and state governments have prioritized slowing the spread of the virus through diligent hygiene and sanitation practices.  The other key component in this fight is limiting our social interactions, particularly in larger groups.  The current recommendation is that gathering in groups of 10 or more is discouraged.  These are the things we can do to help keep people safe and healthy.

With that in mind, the session made the difficult, but necessary, decision last night to suspend all non-essential gatherings at the church for the foreseeable future.  This includes our in-person Sunday worship services, Wednesday evening supper and Christian Education programing, and all committee meetings that are not essential to the functioning of the church.  The session is making provisions to be able to meet remotely if necessary as the situation merits.  The session will also closely monitor the progression of the pandemic to determine when it is safe to resume our normal activities.

This does not mean that we will not be worshiping together.  It is actually a strong reminder that our worship of God is not limited to an hour each Sunday, but is our 24/7/365 vocation as followers of Jesus Christ.  In practical terms, you will receive a worship bulletin via email each week.  Each week I will prepare and record a worship service and send a link via email to a Youtube video and also post the video on the church's Facebook page.  If you like the page it should post in your newsfeed. While the service will be somewhat altered, it will give us the opportunity to share God's word through proclamation and prayer each week.  I also pray that you will continue to support the ministry of the church through your gifts and tithes.  While we do not have the provision for on-line giving, gifts may be sent via mail or in-person if you are in the area.  For the time being, I am planning on maintaining office hours and would love to see you visit if you are healthy and would like to talk or need support.

A time like this is also when the church most needs to be the church.  The session has committed to checking in with our members and friends on a regular basis.  I am always available by phone.  Beyond this, though, we need to continue to reach out to our neighbors, friends and family in the love of Christ.  Check in with people by phone, email, text, or social media.  Offer help and prayer when you can.  Call me when a prayer concern reaches you that needs to be shared with the rest of the church and together we will lift each other up until this virus is defeated.

Let us join in prayer...Lord God, you are our alpha and omega, our first and our last.  You have given us life, you sustain our life, and through your Son we have the promise of eternal life.  And we trust you, because we know that just as our lives are in your hands, so all life is in your hands.  Lift us, guide us, and strengthen us that during this difficult time we may be the hands, feet, and voices of Christ in the world that you so love.  We pray that it may be so in the name of Christ Jesus.  Amen.

In Christ's love,

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