March 12, 2020
As the coronavirus (and news of the coronavirus) spreads, Session has begun to discuss how we might prepare and adapt in order to help one another and our neighbors and to keep our community safe. Please find below a list of their recommendations and plans.
–If you are sick, stay home. I’m doing this myself this Sunday! Please contact me (203-733-4672) or the church office (419-874-4119) and let us know, so that we can care for and pray for you. The entire worship service will be posted online, not just the sermon, so that you can follow along at home: http://1stpresbyterianperrysburg.com/sermons/ If you need help accessing the worship service online, please contact the church office and we can help you over the phone.
–If you are part of an at-risk population (elderly or immuno-compromised), please consider staying home from worship for a while. Several of you have already let me know that you plan to do this. Please contact the church office so that we know you’ll be staying away and can check in with you.
–Practice good hand hygiene. Wash hands thoroughly (at least 20 seconds) with soap and water. Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
–Our custodian will clean high-touch surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, elevator buttons, etc) frequently. All dishes will be washed in hot water (heated in urns) after Fellowship hour. We will work with Inspirations on their cleaning precautions in shared spaces.
–Avoid handshakes and hugs. As we’ve been practicing, pass the peace with a peace sign or a wave. In the greeting line at the end of church, make your greeting a verbal one.
–-Hand sanitizer and tissues will be widely available
–At the Table, ask guests to wash hands in the flower kitchen or bathroom before dinner. Ensure that volunteers follow proper hygiene practices and wear gloves for food service. Have table tents on each table with recommended precautions.
–Suspend in-person visits to nursing homes and rehab facilities
–If we receive direction from health officials, the government, or the denomination to suspend worship gatherings, finding alternative ways to gather online for worship and Bible study and to connect to one another.
–We will continue to monitor guidance and keep you posted by email (and phone for those who don’t have email) about modifications or cancelations to church activities.
This has felt like a whole long list of things we CAN’T do–restrictions on our life together. Phrases like “social distancing”–which really means staying far enough apart to avoid contagion–can take on menacing overtones, imply a certain isolation and loneliness. Worship is, for many of us, one of the few times we come together and see people we love–and so the prospect of staying away feels frightening during a time when we feel inclined to seek solace in each other’s company.
But here’s the good news: There’s something we CAN do in the midst of all this:
We can be the people God has called us to be–we can be followers of Christ. It is, in fact, especially in times like this that we’re called to follow boldly where our savior calls us–loving God and neighbor through ministries of compassion, service, and witness. Even if we have to change, temporarily, some of the ways we do this, we’re not going to stop living our commitment to extend Christ’s love to ALL people.
How can we do this? By continuing to love and support one another, and the most vulnerable of our neighbors. By taking a break from the up-to-the-minute coverage of the media, and immersing ourselves in the eternal Word of God. By praying without ceasing, and not just for ourselves, our friends, our families, and our country, but for people all around the world.
Thank you for your faithful service and witness. If you have questions, concerns, or ideas, please reach out to me and/or to members of Session.
Grace and peace,