Siblings in Christ,
As we join the rest of the world in responding to the pandemic of Covid-19, we have had some difficult decisions to make about our gatherings, and we are beginning to work on how we can faithfully love our neighbors as the virus progresses through our community. Our Watershed Gathering met last night to discern the way forward, and I am writing to communicate what we have decided and how we are working to prepare for the days ahead.
In terms of our gatherings, there are many things to consider- we do not want to be part of spreading this disease, we want to do our part to help “flatten the curve,” and we want to look out for the most vulnerable among us. With this in mind, we have made decisions about each of our usual gatherings, which you can find at the bottom of this note. We will continue to re-evaluate as days pass and the situation develops.
We will still be gathering for our Sunday afternoon worship service this week at 5pm. We realize that this may be a controversial decision, and it was not made lightly. With our congregation, specifically, many of our people do not have a place to self-quarantine and are likely to be stuck somewhere high-risk, especially with rain in the forecast. As has often been the case, our people are stuck in a bad situation, and we feel that we would rather gather, share information, pray together, and fulfill our primary purpose of worshipping the Lord than leave people to fend for themselves on the streets. Isolation is one of our church’s great enemies, and even if we need to cancel services in future weeks, we will continue to work against it in any way that we can.
If you are sick (fever, coughing, not feeling well), for the sake of the vulnerable in the community and general public health, we need to ask you not to join us for any gatherings at this time, but to quarantine yourself as best you can. We will be screening folks at the door, and turning away symptomatic people, helping people get to the hospital if they need to do so. Additionally, if you are in a high-risk category (over 60 with heart or respiratory issues, or immunosuppressed), we encourage you to stay away for now. We will do our best to clean, screen, and keep distance from one another, but gatherings of any kind may be risky for you, and we want you to stay as safe as possible. We are working on ways to stay connected with those who cannot join us in person. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to stay connected but feel like you cannot or should not join us in person.
Our Sunday worship gathering is typically 65-75 people, and we anticipate it being even smaller this week. We are committed to doing our best in a bad situation to keep one another safe and avoid spreading the virus while not leaving one another to fend for ourselves alone. This is a week-to-week decision, and if/when the virus is more widespread, we will be ready to worship in an alternative way.
In the midst of all of this, we are also preparing to be faithful to our calling to love one another. We will begin gathering names of those who are quarantined so that we can care for them. We are asking for volunteers who are willing to help deliver food and to call and pray with folks who are isolated due to this virus in the coming days. If you want to volunteer, or if you (or someone you know) become quarantined, please call or email us [(619) 942-3692; email@example.com]. We will also be reaching out to Oak Park Elementary School to offer to deliver food to families of kids who might be missing meals as the schools are closed. We will need help with this. If you are willing to coordinate with us, or if you know others who are looking for ways to be helpers during this crisis, please reach out as we get organized.
In our best moments, the Church has been a people who are willing to help in the midst of crisis. When we are all scared, when we are sick, when we are suffering, when we are tempted to isolate, the Church has been a people who step up to offer sacrificial love to one another. We have cared for one another and reminded one another of the hope we have in Christ. We intend to be this kind of church during this season. We intend to do it well (not at all recklessly), and even as a church full of poor and vulnerable people, we intend to live out our faith by giving ourselves, our time, and our resources to love our neighbors through this pandemic. We hope that God will send others to join us in this work. And we pray and trust that God will give us the strength, courage, and protection we need during this time.
Thank you for your faithfulness, your prayer, and your help as we seek to be the body of Christ in this difficult season. May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and with us.
– Pastor Chris
Sunday Worship – we will gather this week (do not come if you are sick; we will be screening for fever and cough and encouraging high-risk folks to stay home)
Café Saturday – altered – come pick up coffee to-go
Monday Prayer Group – suspended
Tuesday Night Bible Study – still on for now
Living Water Kids (Thursdays) – suspended
Thursday Spanish Bible Study – suspended
All-Church Retreat – postponed
NA – still gathering for now
Food Distribution – still on for now (2nd and 4th Mondays)