March 15, 2020
To the Friends and Family of Grace United Church (GUMC):
It was a difficult, but I believe necessary, decision to temporarily suspend worship as a gathered Body of Christ, in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. We will be regularly monitoring the situation and as soon as it is felt we can safely do so, we will resume community worship.
Times like this invite us to step up in many ways:
1. Ensuring our pledge or weekly giving continues, ensures the bills continue to be paid.
2. Checking in with friends and family by phone helps reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, and can offer opportunities for shared prayer or devotional time. These calls also help identify people in need of assistance getting groceries or other essentials, but who are unable/fearful of going out or are in need of a call from the pastor. This does not mean you have to do the shopping, but perhaps can find help for them by contacting the pastor. (I will try to be in phone contact with everyone for whom I have numbers during this crisis, but won’t be able to speak with everyone every week)
3. Find new ways to connect with God. Prayer is an essential part of communion with God. For a couple of years now, I have been part of a group that prays “The Lord’s Prayer at noon every day. Perhaps you might set an alarm to remind you and join us today/tomorrow.
4. Protecting the health of the community will mean that we are temporarily discontinuing the availability of showers. (This does not mean church members, but if you are ill we ask you not come into the building.) Jean and others who use the office are still able to come in, but I encourage people to call, rather than come in, if you need something.
5. I will be devising worship plans that you can use at home. If you have an e-mail address, please share it with us/check that we are using the best address. E-mailing the information saves time and money. If you don’t have an e-mail, we will “snail mail” the information to you.
6. Please share God Sightings and prayer requests with the church office so we can include them with worship information.
Jean and I will work on a newsletter/bulletin insert to help keep folks abreast of the situation regarding church, etc. but your input will also be helpful.
In Romans 5:3b-5 (NRSV) Paul tells the community “We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
This time of not gathering and of avoiding physical contact, in and of itself, causes suffering for some, but we know that God is with us through it all. Let us stay in touch, one with the other, to encourage and care for each other.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Ami Sawtelle