March 14, 2020
Dear Siblings in Christ:
Grace and peace to you! As you are certainly aware, the COVID-19 virus is wreaking havoc on many lives these days. For the past several days, your church leadership has been wrestling with the decision about whether to hold or cancel church activities during this time. Like Jacob who wrestled with the angel in Genesis (32:22-32), we know that we may walk away from this situation with a limp. The major concern at this point is to “flatten the curve” by social distancing so that our hospitals and health care facilities do not become overwhelmed with people and to protect those most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 due to age or compromised immune systems. A recent communication from the Minnesota Conference UCC has encouraged us to cancel in-person gatherings.
We have decided to cancel worship for tomorrow, March 15, as well as our Lenten evening gathering on Wednesday. You will be able to find Pastor Jill on the livestream (use the link at www.firstcongregationaluccalex.com) at 10 am tomorrow, and the recording will be placed on our church website and facebook page for those with access. (Access our YouTube channel through the church website.)
The Church Council will meet on Tuesday evening to make decisions about scheduled gatherings for the remainder of this month. We will also explore ways to be in ministry with our congregation and community during this time.
As a church called to love, we will continue to take measures to care for persons who are vulnerable.
-if you do not feel well, please contact your health care provider, especially if you are in the at-risk category.
-if you are isolated, for any reason, and need assistance with getting food or personal items, please contact Pastor Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the church office.
-If you are low-risk and not one of those especially susceptible to this virus and would be willing to volunteer to assist those in need, please let us know as well.
-Some of our members do not have internet access. If you would be willing to be a phone contact for one or more of these households to convey information and offer support, please contact us.
-Your pastor and other caregivers will not visit if they are sick or have been exposed to the virus. They will diligently wash their hands before and after every visit and will temporarily refrain from touching and holding hands. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need conversation or care.
-Please remember that our congregation has financial obligations to meet even when we do not gather. Your continued generosity makes ministry possible at First Congregational UCC, and our ministry is needed now more than ever.
In Romans 8, the apostle Paul tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Not famine nor nakedness no peril nor sword—and certainly not COVID-19. God is with us individually and as a faith community, and we will get through this time together by embodying God’s love for one another.
If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Pastor Jill (email@example.com) or Moderator, Ann Branch. (firstname.lastname@example.org or (320) 460-0316.
Pastor Jill Sanders