NOTE: The Zoom registration link on this page was updated on March 13.
Dear Western Friends,
Grace and peace to you all in the midst of this Lent. I write you on behalf of the Session with news and updates as we respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. As we all know, much is still unknown about the virus, but we continue to find out how to help slow the spread and avoid overtaxing healthcare services.
Key to prevention and spread is reducing social interaction—the very kind we usually share on Sunday mornings. In light of current efforts to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the illness, we are cancelling all gatherings this Sunday (Free Inquiry, choir practice, Hospitality, nursery, Sunday School) except for worship, which will be primarily a virtual/on-line experience. The worship service will be condensed and will use the Zoom and Facebook Live platforms, with on-line options for giving and sharing joys and concerns. If you do not have internet capability, the Zoom function will allow you to call in on your phone. The service will also be recorded for anyone who wishes to experience worship outside of real time.
I hope that you will try this new way of worship, rather than coming in person. If you come, know that we will be set up for recording, doing most of our talking from the corner of the sanctuary in front of the lectern.
This Sunday will be an opportunity for all of us – myself included – to try something different! Instead of saying now how long this will last, I would rather call this a beta-phase testing. Below are some important links – to our web site, worship service, on-line giving.
Through all of this, we hold fast to the following commitments:
- We realize that this is not about us. Please make your health, safety and well-being a priority, not just for your sake, but for the sake of those around you. While we may want to continue living a normal church life, these are not normal times. we do not want to inadvertently add to the COVID-19 crisis by creating spaces where people are put at risk to either spread or be infected, no matter how slight we might believe that risk to be.
- We remain committed to keeping in touch and caring for one another spiritually, pastorally and virtually. We are committed to making sure that people can still connect with one another be it by video, phone, text messages, or other forms. I hope you will use the confidential form on our website to update the pastors if you are taking special precautions, doing self-quarantine, or become ill.
- We remain supportive of those most vulnerable, our neighbors experiencing homelessness. As Miriam’s Kitchen shifts to “bare bones” operations, allowing telework for staff not required to be on-site, cancelling volunteer shifts and handing out pre-packaged food from outside the building, our staff has worked with MK staff to handle operations in a manner that is safe, functional and as hygienic as possible for all.
- We ask for grace, patience, and healing. This virus brings anxiety to an already charged political climate. Each of us faces circumstances we’ve never known before. We’ll need to find ways to remain grounded and centered, practicing mutual forbearance in stressful situations, trusting that the Spirit still gives us wisdom.
As you can imagine, church staff has put in extra time and effort to stay on top of this situation. The staff and session take seriously their roles to lead and serve this community, and it is an honor to serve alongside them. We hope that you will stay tuned to church communications and in prayer for all of us as we make decisions in the weeks and months ahead. As we look to what awaits, may you remain grounded in God’s love, open to God’s Spirit, and comforted by Christ’s care.
Giving thanks for a God more powerful than any virus, whose love is more contagious than any disease, and whose hands bear only blessings,