In light of the ongoing spread of the coronavirus (or COVID-19), we want you to know that the health of our community is of utmost concern to the leadership this congregation.
We are doing all that we can to stay current with public health guidelines, to follow best practices for hygiene, and to exercise well-informed caution and care in responding to this situation.
Since the Passing the Peace is a particular concern at this time, we are recommending a change in our ordinary practice. Instead of shaking hands or embracing, we suggest that we all simply offer a respectful bow to one another as we say the words.
We will also be reviewing the way we offer and share in Communion. We want to insure that when we do participate in the Lord’s Supper, we do so in a manner that is safe and protects the health of our community, individually and collectively.
Finally, we are joining with public health and denominational officials to urge you to use common sense and your best judgment in protecting your own health and the health of others, by taking the following steps:
- Reduce unnecessary travel, particularly by air or by other means that involve large groups in confined spaces.
- Reduce unnecessary touch and contact when in public to avoid placing yourself or others at greater risk.
- Refrain from attending public events or joining in public gatherings (including worship) if you are feeling ill or are showing signs of a communicable illness or disease. Please note: even if you believe you are not sick, but are coughing or sneezing, we ask that you be mindful of the anxiety this may cause in others around you.
- If you decide to stay home from worship or other church events due to illness, or out of fear of contracting illness, we would be grateful if you might share that decision with the pastoral staff of the church. We do not want any of our members to feel lonely or excluded! And we will find ways to provide practical support for you to the best of our ability within public heath guidelines and recommendations.
The COVID-19 virus is particularly virulent in older adults. If you fall in this demographic sector, we would encourage you to be extra-cautious about protecting your health and to follow the above guidelines very closely.
In closing, let me offer a word of encouragement. In the face of a growing pandemic, I think it’s important to be mindful of and responsive to what medical science tells us about the way viruses are spread — and this virus in particular, and about how to reduce our risk of contracting it.
But I also think it’s important to draw on the resources of our faith tradition. The charge to “Fear not” is the most common imperative in the Bible. And the reason is simple: even ordinarily life has always been just a little dangerous, and it is never fully without risk.
So, stay informed. Take sensible precautions and follow public health guidelines and recommendations closely.
But also take this to heart: Fear not! Because God is with us now. And God is with us always.