Greetings, members and friends of Grace UCC.
I do not doubt that many have been following the latest updates regarding COVID-19 and its effects on individuals, businesses, and community groups. These effects have only seemed to amplify over the past few months, and especially the past few days as we have received news of what the state of Ohio has recommended in order to combat the spread of this virus.
I have been wrestling with the question as to whether we should proceed with in-person worship services in light of these recommendations. It has not been a light wrestling, I must say. And many have perhaps been asking the question as to whether we will hold services and other activities, or whether to attend if we do.
The greatest cause for this wrestling has been the fact that our membership has a large contingent of people who are considered vulnerable to this virus, and the need to help keep them safe.
Here is what has been decided, in consultation with Consistory.
-We will be suspending in-person worship services for the next three Sundays, March 15, 22, and 29.
-An abbreviated worship experience will be offered via Facebook Live on our Facebook page at 10:15 a.m.
-The church office will remain open for work that needs to be done during this time.
-Tomorrow's scrapbooking crop will continue, but all other events will either be postponed or evaluated on a case by case basis.
-Spiritual Council and special Consistory meetings scheduled for these coming weeks will be evaluated case-by-case as well.
-Those in need of pastoral care or other physical needs during this time should still call the church office or a member of Consistory.
Again, this decision was not made lightly. It was done via consultation with multiple individuals, and it took into account what Ohio, the Living Water Association, and the Heartland Conference are recommending, as well as in consideration of what would be most faithful to the needs of our own membership.
I am reminded in this time of Lent and anticipation of Easter how often Jesus says to the disciples, "do not be afraid." We may find great cause to fear in this time, but God's presence and promises remain with us even in dark moments. And we still may witness to that truth to one another as we are able, as we check on one another during this time.
After all, the church is much more than what we do for an hour a week on Sunday mornings. It is also how we care for each other when we need help in times of anxiety and pain.
May we continue to be the church to each other, as we anticipate the joy of resurrection to come.