Enjoy our monthly Newsletter
Enjoy our monthly Newsletter
The coronavirus (COVID-19) presents to us unprecedented challenges. We have complied with the directives of state and national government officials and refrained from gathering in our sanctuary. Our moratorium on worship services began on March 22 and will be in effect for at least until the end of April.
To say that the past few weeks have been uncharted territory for us would be an understatement. The seminary did not prepare me as your pastor for “social distancing,” “pandemic,” and “quarantine.” How do we practice life together, when we can no longer meet together? It soon became clear to us that our most pressing concern is how to maintain our community of faith in face of the restrictions imposed by the measures taken to mitigate the spread of the virus.
In lieu of our ordinary worship services in the sanctuary, we began holding “virtual” worship service online. Our first one took place Sunday, March 22, the Fourth Sunday of Lent. For this occasion, I uploaded onto the church’s Facebook page a video in which I read parts of the liturgy, the gospel lesson designated for the day, and delivered a brief sermon. I concluded with our prayers of the people and a benediction. I repeated the process for the Fifth Sunday of Lent and Palm Sunday. For these two services I sent out in advance a copy of a truncated liturgy to be used as an aid for those who want to participate in the prayers and lessons at home. In the days between Sundays, I have been communicating with our people by posting on Facebook.
To conduct the worship of the church via this medium is far from ideal, but it is what has been thrust upon us. We have now to negotiate the challenge of how to be church as long as the COVID-19 crisis lasts.
This challenge has at least four dimensions. The church consultancy group Vanderbloemen has identified these as messaging, meeting, ministry, and money. Let us consider each of these in turn.
How can we best communicate? We have our phones, website, and Facebook page. Have we used these effectively? Have we reached out to the solitary and the vulnerable among us, for whom “social distancing” can and has become social isolation? How can we best serve our elderly, who are most at risk for infection from the virus?
What about meeting together? Here the members of the session have had to learn new technology to meet via a teleconference on the Zoom platform. It is interesting to reflect on the rapidity with which words and activities of which we had only the faintest awareness a brief few weeks ago are now ordinary and commonplace. Among these are “Zoom” meetings while we “shelter in place.”
And our ministry? Are we believing and confidently proclaiming the peace and hope we have in Christ amid the fear, confusion, dislocation and skepticism that characterize life in this pandemic? Are we standing firm in sound doctrine, rejecting the teaching of those self-appointed prophets who try to deceive people into believing that COVID-19 is judgment that a violent deity is passing upon his enemies (e.g. liberals, capitalists, meat-eaters, transgendered people, et al..)? That is not how I read the New Testament. At the same time, we are aware that disasters and the imminent threat of death do lead some to confront their own mortality, seemingly making them more open to the message of the gospel. We should always be ready to share with them the peace and the hope we have found in Christ.
Finally, there is the issue of money. How can our giving survive the economic devastation that the corona virus has left in its wake? It is well-known that giving to churches and charitable organizations always dries up in periods of economic hardship. But it is perhaps in these times when God’s people most need the ministry of the church.
The issues here are many, and we have only scratched the surface. We have to remain firm and steadfast in our commitment to the ministry of the church during this time, making do with the limited means at our disposal, above all relying on the strength of the One who promised never to leave us nor forsake us.
Due to the current social distancing order, all in person social activities and meetings have been cancelled.
We’re here to help
These minutes are of the February 11, 2020 meeting.
Submitted by: Margaret Gregory, Clerk of Session
It should be noted because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, events planned for the second half of March and April were not able to take place.
Six-year-old Angie, and her four-year old brother, Joel, were sitting together in church. Joel giggled, sang and talked out loud. Finally, his big sister had had enough, “You’re not supposed to talk out loud in church.” “Why? Who’s going to stop me?” Joel asked. Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, “See those two men standing by the door? They’re hushers.”
A Sunday school teacher asker her little children, as they were on the way to church service, “And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?” One bright little girl replied, “Because people are sleeping.”
A little boy was overheard praying, “Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am”.
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams
He renews my strength;
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a fest for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
All the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.