A Message from First Church About Our Growing Reality with COVID-19

Dear Friends,

The Coronavirus, COVID-19, has rapidly emerged as the number one concern for many in our community and around the world.  Information coming from state, national, and global health officials concerning the Coronavirus changes hourly.  It is with this in mind that we are sharing some of the essential steps we are taking as a community to remain connected and centered during this crisis.

We are a Christ-centered Community.  We are called to live our lives claimed and blessed by the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.

First, we continue to be the church that God has called us to be, modeling a life that is grounded in the Hope of Christ.  We will continue to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to share that love with our neighbors.  The Hope of Christ will guide us.  We take comfort in the words of Isaiah 41:10:

So do not fear, for I am with you;

Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Proactive Measures

We are addressing concerns as they are raised, and meeting regularly to discuss appropriate actions.  Here are some of our immediate precautions:

·        The tour to the National Museum of African American History & Culture has been postponed with hopes of rescheduling later this year.

·        Cleaning /Disinfecting – The Custodians are using disinfectants to clean every surface, paying special attention to door knobs, light switches, tables and pews.  First Food and Friends will be cleaning tables and chairs before and after meals on Saturdays.

·        Sanitizers – Hand sanitizer stations are placed throughout the church and refills have been ordered.

·        Hospitality – on Sundays, our greeters will do their best to open doors for those coming into the sanctuary.  Any shared foods will be served by servers with gloved hands.

·        Choir has modified rehearsal methods.

·        Offering – We will temporarily modify how we receive offerings by placing baskets on the altar rail.  The Lenten Reverse offering will be offered at the altar rail as well.  This will minimize contact across the congregation.

·        Worship — Mystics in Motions is retooling the format for Wednesday worship.  Communion bread will be given by one person with clean hands, and for the foreseeable future we will use individual cups for the grape juice.  On Tuesday, March 16th, the worship Team will meet to explore the possibility of online worship.  The Sharing of the peace of Christ has been modified to elbow bumps, handwaves, smiles and bows.

·        Ongoing Communication – As information becomes available, we will keep you updated about any changes in our schedule and modifications that will enable us to accomplish ministry in different ways.  Watch for updates via email, web and social media.

·        The CARE Team will be meeting.  In this meeting a plan will be formatted to keep the community connected to one another.  We are not in this alone, but we are together.  Check in on one another to prevent isolation.

The Importance of Your Giving

Thank you for giving to the church.  We have an opportunity to show the world what it looks like to care for one another and those in our community.  We look forward to your giving even as our ministry continues in new and creative ways.  Please continue to give and if you have not considered online giving, please call the office to learn more or consider “online bill pay” through your financial institution.  Your giving changes lives.

Staying Informed

We will continue to monitor events and information coming from the Health Department, the State and the CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html, making decisions as they become necessary.

Important Reminders

For the majority of people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus is thought to be low.

·        There is not widespread circulation in most communities in the U.S.

·        However, it is likely that at some point, widespread transmission in the U.S. will occur.

Everyday preventative measures to help protect yourself and other:

·        Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

·        Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially with unwashed hands.  Avoid touching surfaces in public places (elevator buttons, door handles, handrails).  Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand of finger.  If you must touch something, wash your hands after.

·        Stay home when you are sick and for 24 hours after you no longer have a fever.

·        Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.

·        Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

You are important.  It is a privilege to serve with you.  Thank you for your presence, your giving, and most importantly your concern.  We will continue to update you as information becomes available.

The Peace of Christ,

Pastor Tracy, Tim and Joe