March 19, 2020
Sunday morning worship is on hold until further notice.
Well…that changed in a hurry! In-between time the Council and I worked out these guidelines, the infection rate in Illinois skyrocketed, the warnings about gathering grew more dire, and it became clear that worshiping together in person would no longer be possible for a while.
Sunday morning worship is on hold until further notice. Beth and I will get word out whenever it seems possible to start meeting together, in person, again. In the meantime, skip directly ahead to page 2 of the enclosed “Coping with COVID” informational sheet.
The weekly mailing will start the week of March 23, and be distributed electronically where possible and through the postal service where not. The first video Bible study will be next Sunday, March 29, at 9 am. Look for your electronic invitations to arrive soon. Tarrah and I are also planning other ways to get together in the virtual world. If any of you have experience setting things like that up, please call.
For now, remember that, whether together or scattered, we ARE the Church, and no virus can ever change that!
March 18, 2019
Dear Members and Friends of St. John Church:
I’d like to share my thoughts as your pastor with regards to the uncertainty and fear gripping our country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’re people of faith, you and I, and in this crisis would do well to follow Paul’s advice to the folks in Corinth. “Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
I urge you to stay alert, keeping yourselves informed. Please listen to the scientists and doctors using their God-given gifts to help us through this challenging time. Resist rumor and fear mongering, and beware of scams trying to take advantage of the situation.
As far as standing firm in the faith is concerned, I’ll conduct worship services as long as it doesn’t endanger either your health or mine. Just how long that will be, I can’t say, since things are changing now virtually hour by hour.
If for whatever reason we cannot meet, the Church Council and I will let our members know about next steps.
It takes both courage and strength to maintain one’s emotional and spiritual equilibrium. It also takes a healthy dose of common sense.
- Practice good hygiene, washing your hands and staying home if you’re sick. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth, preferably in the crook of your elbow.
- Self-quarantine if you come in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Remember, people can be carriers without showing any symptoms.
- Practice good self-care. Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and take a break from work or the news when you feel overwhelmed or stressed. If possible, walk outside and breathe in some of God’s good fresh air. A healthy dose of prayer works wonders, too!
- We’ll try to make hand sanitizer available here the church as best we can—though, as many of you have discovered, it’s hard to come by just now. If anyone would like to donate a bottle or two, we at the church would appreciate it. Please remember that good old-fashioned soap and water are even more effective.
Those at high risk from COVID-19 due to age or health difficulties should read their Bibles and pray and worship in their own way at home.
The same applies to those who want to stay home simply for their own peace of mind. The rest of us will miss you on Sunday morning, but we’ll also understand and join with you in prayer.
If you have access to the Internet, each Sunday’s services are posted to the church website (stjohnuccnewathens.com) early in the week, as are copies of the bulletin as well as the manuscripts of my sermons, along with other useful information. See the “Coping with COVID” sheet for other online options.
If you can’t attend, please also remember that the church’s expenses will continue. Feel free to mail in your offering or drop it off at the church office during the week, away from Sunday morning crowds.
Let all that you do be done in love. Patience will be called for, as will understanding and grace. No matter how much things may change, God’s love for us in Jesus Christ is a constant in our lives, and Christ’s presence with us continues.
Confident in that hope, may we together keep alert, stand firm in our faith, and be both courageous and strong. Most of all, friends, let all that we do be done in love, not just here on Sunday morning, but as we make our way through whatever the path before us holds.