Yesterday, March 15, we met for worship. At that time the cutoff for gatherings was at 250 and we were fairly confident we would not exceed that number. We didn’t; there were perhaps 25 in attendance. We did cancel our St. Patrick’s corned beef and cabbage potluck as recommended by the conference office, and we practiced distancing ourselves by spreading out in the pews and waving to each other from our seats during the passing of the peace. We also switched to using individual cups for communion.
After worship we had a meeting to discuss how we would proceed going forward, and it was agreed that as long as gatherings were still permitted we would continue to do so. We also agreed that we would suspend our weekly practice of communion, and we discussed strategies for continuing to worship as well as staying connected should we be required to suspend our live gathering all together. The office will remain open for now, but if it is recommended that everyone isolate themselves at home then the office will close until things blow over.
Since there are many of us who are positioned higher in the “at risk” category, you may have decided to isolate yourselves already. If you don’t feel comfortable going out then I urge you to stay at home. My first concern is for the safety of our members. But there are things we can do to stay connected and bolster each other’s spirits.
For one thing, beginning next Sunday we will start live-streaming our worship services on Facebook. This is new territory for us so be patient as we iron out the wrinkles, but it will actually be a good thing going forward since more will be able to tune in to our worship.
As always, we will continue to record the sermon portion of the service and post it on YouTube and Facebook, and I will be posting updates and motivational messages on this blog to keep you informed and inspired.
Finally, we can tend to each other by checking in and making sure we are all okay. Ask yourself, who might need a phone call, or email, or even a text message? Who are the most vulnerable among us and what might their needs be? There are some who cannot get out already and who may need meals delivered, or groceries or medicine. Send each other cards. Hey, who isn’t immediately cheered by a card?
Last night, the CDC recommended that gatherings be limited to 50 or less. By the end of the week that number could drop to zero. It is a very real possibility that we won’t be able to meet in person for a little while and that’s okay. We can handle this and we can come out stronger and better because of it.
On Tuesday the council will still meet and discuss things further, so don’t be discouraged. We are here for each other and that will never change. And when this is over, we are going to have the best corned beef and cabbage potluck ever!