March Worship 2020

Dear Friends and Family, March 13, 2020

Last night, after serious discussion, the Session of Robinson Elmwood United Church voted to suspend worship services for at least the next 3 weeks due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus.  I was invited to be a part of that discussion, and agree with their determination.  As one worshipping community, we will suspend our services and our meetings for the next 3 weeks.

It is a basic human instinct to respond to challenging times by gathering: gathering to pray, to sing, to have fellowship, all so that we might comfort and support one another. For many, this was true in the wake of the 9/11 crisis, or following countless mass shootings, and even after natural disasters.

The challenges we face with the COVID-19 virus may as yet be unclear, but what is certain is that in order to thwart its spread, our ability to gather as a whole faith community may be impaired for a while.  Some of us are over 60 years of age, some of us have compromised immune systems, all of us are concerned about getting COVID-19, or passing it on to others.  Recommendations from Departments of Health, the CDC, our New York State government and just plain common sense can help us to be more cautious when we gather in groups.  Our impulse to gather together is unfortunately contrary to most advice coming from most experts: social distancing will keep us safer.  

God is with us in these times, just as God has been with us during other challenging times. With a common sense approach to the growing threat of COVID-19, we can faithfully weather this storm.

While any alternative to what we have come to know as actual church may seem less than ideal, I believe we have the resources and abilities to meet many of our needs as church during this time: worship? There are two ways you can access the service. To view the live stream on your computers or other devices use this link:  

https://video.nest.com/live/7kmExECKWn

 If you would prefer to dial in at 10AM and listen to the audio of the service use this number:      1-929-205-6099 and enter the prompt # 398192873#.  You will be able to listen, but we will not be able to hear you. 

Meetings? Video conference, conference calls, or email. Visits to those who are home-bound, or in health-care facilities? Phone or video chats may need to suffice. Offering? Send your pledge or offering in via US Mail.

For those who look forward to church as a way to connect to others, or be social, this period of time may be more of a challenge.  Which is why it is important that each person who wishes to have contact from me, or from another member of our faith community reach out and say so.  

If I found it difficult to visit some of our members after moving as a half-time pastor, I can tell you it will now be doubly so.  

Let us not allow the protocols of social distancing to get in the way of being the Body of Christ: we are together in prayer, in song, in the Word…we are together under God’s protective embrace, even when we can’t be all together physically.  Pastor Stephanie, Pastor Kyle, Sue Miller, Liz Martin, and I will be working with our Council (FCC) and Session (REUC) to ensure we can be a safe church, online or in person.

Let us pray that these challenging times be short, and that soon, we can all gather together in person again, without fear or worry.

 

Blessings,

 

Pastor Gary