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Letter to Faith Presbyterian Church re: Cancelling Worship

by on March 13, 2020

Letter to Faith Presbyterian Church, March 13, 2020

Friends of Faith

We are writing tonight having watched developments concerning the novel coronavirus over the past several days. Many of us have read widely through materials provided by our local and federal governments, the medical community, and other church and community leaders. As of tonight, March 13, 2020, we are cancelling worship services at Faith Presbyterian Church effective for four (4) weeks, including Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020.

To some of you this information will come as a relief. To others it may sound extreme. This decision to cancel worship is not one we make lightly. We all know the essential need we have as humans to worship God and to be together. The Lord’s Day Service is the largest and most public way we do this as church. But it is not the only way.

One of our first tasks in the days ahead will be to identify ways we as the church—that is, all of us—can maintain spiritual practices that allow us to worship God and remain connected. Already some members of the staff and Dr. Tom are working on this. The Deacons and Session will play a crucial role, as will your own circle of spiritual friends at Faith as we continue to care for one another.

We ask you to take initiative to let your Deacon, Tom, or the leader or another member of your small group know how you are doing. Though we may not be together physically, our baptismal unity in Christ ensures that we are never alone. Be assured of our prayers for all of you.

A subsequent task in the weeks ahead is to determine how we may sustain ministry to and with one another and the world in this and similar situations. We envision using technology to facilitate our ability to worship and remain connected. We will also be determining how best to serve our neighbors.

Throughout the duration of our cancellations, we will of course continue monitoring the novel coronavirus and attendant COVID-19 disease, plus any related developments.

Dr. Tom has written an article for our church and denomination which you can find on his blog (www.tomtrinidad.com). In it he reminds us of the precautions we can take. These include: (1) Regularly washing one’s hands for 20 seconds with soap and running water; (2) Limiting physical contact with others; (3) Not touching one’s nose and mouth; (4) Disinfecting surfaces often; (5) Quarantining oneself if you feel sick or may have been exposed to the virus; (6) Coughing/sneezing into a tissue and discarding it right away; (7) Maintaining a distance of 6 feet from people who appear to be sick.

He also advises, “We need to remember that anxiety, lack of sleep, and depression suppress our immune systems. Thus it is necessary to take care of ourselves physically and mentally. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, balance vigilance with amusement, and socialize. With precautions and discipline, all these are possible and they will keep our bodies strong against sickness of body and mind.”

You might be wondering what impact this will have on our paid staff. Many staff activities will be redirected or perhaps reduced during this time. Session has committed to maintain staff salaries through these weeks so as not to cause additional stress upon our staff. Of course to maintain this commitment to them we need you to maintain your financial support of Faith Church. We’ll clarify ways you may do this in another letter.

Concerns about the novel coronavirus have inspired many people to act and live in fear. We want you to know that this decision is based on love. We care for those members of our congregation who are most at risk. We care about the anxiety that many of us are feeling. And we care that everyone in our congregation continues to develop the practices of faith: knowing the Bible, prayer, building spiritual friendship, serving others, and of course worship. As the church, we simply have to find alternative ways to pursue these practices in light of the love we have for others which dictates this decision.

Please pass the word to those who may not have access to this letter otherwise. We will provide regular updates as to our progress, and we welcome your thoughtful and constructive advice.

Peace be with you all,

The Session of Faith Presbyterian Church

 

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