March 13, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ at St. Stephen:
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. “ I Cor. 12: 27
I have made the executive decision that starting on Friday, March 13, 2020. worship, day school, and all church events are to be cancelled until Thursday, March 26th. At that time, the decision will be reevaluated. This is, of course, due to the fast-spreading COVID-19 virus. That means there will be no worship on Sunday, March 15 or Sunday, March 22nd.
I admit a lot of discomfort in making this decision but see no choice. The staff and leadership of St. Stephen are responsible for the life and health of this whole church and its members. While normally this means only spiritually and pastorally, we are now in the challenging situation of having responsibility for your actual physical health. I consulted with our church member and ruling elder Dr. Kate Colquitt, an infectious disease doctor, who put it well: “We are the body of Christ. What that means is that we take care of one another.” That is our primary calling right now. I’d add that as the Body of Christ, we are interconnected whether we’re occupying the same building or not. Rarely has there been a more important time to keep this in mind.
While this is a challenging time, our faith and confidence in God remain strong. In fact, it is because of our faith that we know that when things emerge that are out of our control, we can trust that God remains with us and that we also have one another. I urge you all to pray for one another in this time, to make the extra effort to call your fellow St. Stephen friends. The deacons and staff will continue to practice pastoral care but through non-physical means such as phone calls and so on. The deacons have committed to do shopping for those who find themselves homebound due to COVID-19 or other health needs. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you or someone else in our church community needs such support. The best way to contact us for pastoral care needs will be to contact Anne at email@example.com. She will make sure that word gets to deacons and to staff.
I intend to use Facebook and the St. Stephen webpage over the next couple of weeks to find various ways to provide worship and support at this challenging time. Please keep an eye on our Facebook page and www.ststephenpresbyterian.com.
The church office will be closed and staff will continue to work from home. I will continue to be in contact in various way.
My prayers are with you all at this time. Dr. Colquitt strongly advises all of us to stay home and avoid large groups of any sort. I strongly emphasize for all of you the advice of professionals to maintain 3-6 feet distance from one another and limit physical contact. Feel free to contact me at any point. As we approach the 26th, I will be in touch with you to determine next steps. God bless you all.
Grace and peace,