My dear siblings in Christ,
I write as identified cases of COVID 19 are on the rise, and several have been reported in our area. As Christians, we are called to care for each other, especially those who are vulnerable, and to do what we can for the good of all.
To that end, we are instituting some guidelines for how we are in community with each other at this point in time. These guidelines are not the result of fear or panic, but rather to do our part as responsible citizens to decrease the likelihood of viral exposure and transmission, thereby lessening human illness and suffering. In other words, this is part of loving our neighbor as ourselves.
We will continue to hold church as usual, though we will no longer pass the wine. Wine will still be consecrated along with the bread, and the chalice (cup) will be brought around, but rather than drinking or dipping, the chalice bearer will simply say the words “The blood of Christ, the Cup of Salvation” and then move on. We will not shake hands at the passing of the peace.
However, if you fall into one of the higher risk categories, specifically if you have an underlying health condition/compromised immune system, or are over 60, please stay at home. Worshiping together is important to each of us, but so is your health and well being. To this community and to God. So, we will be live streaming the 11 service on Facebook, in an effort to still feel connected at this time. Please tune in and join with us. Also, sermons are available online for you to listen to or read usually by the Wednesday after they are preached.
I am asking all groups to suspend meetings for now-either postponing them to a later date or “meeting” via email, zoom, skype, or FaceTime. Staff are being encouraged to do as much work as possible at home and, for those things that must be done at 313 Pine St., we are working to limit the number of people in the office at the same time.
These measures have not been undertaken lightly and we as a staff will be evaluating them regularly and making changes as necessary. And the truth is that the vast majority of people at St. Peter’s will either not get the virus, or, if contracted it, would only be mildly ill. The problem lies in the risk of a healthy person spreading the virus to someone who is not. And that concern, that love for neighbor, is what is motivating these changes.
As a congregation made up mostly of people who have health insurance, who have jobs that allow for flexibility or have paid sick leave, I encourage you to do all in your power to minimize your impact on the weakest and most vulnerable among us, and to refrain from things like hoarding food and sanitizer-none of us should be comfortable at the expense of others. I also ask that you do any shopping you need to do now rather than relying on delivery services if/when things get worse. Delivery services require workers who do not have the luxury of staying home to be out and exposed to the virus.
Know that Sarah and I are available to you and that we are holding members of St. Peter’s, as well as people worldwide, in our prayers.
Please contact me with any concerns or questions you might have.