May 6, 2020
Your pastor and elders are eager to open the church doors and welcome you back for in-person worship. We have scheduled that to happen on Mother’s Day, May 10th! That said, in accordance with Governor Holcomb and the Indiana Department of Health’s recommendations, things will be different when you return. The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the steps we have taken to keep the building clean and maintain health while still enabling our church family to be together again.
CAN I STILL WORSHIP ONLINE?
Yes! We will continue to do a live stream webinar on Zoom.
If you feel ill, please stay home.
Indiana Department of Health recommends those 65 and older as well as at risk groups continue to worship from home.
Please do not enter pews that are roped off.
Use both 4th St. and 3rd St. entrances to minimize congestion.
The lounge and upstairs areas will be closed.
Session is requiring everyone to wear a mask.
We do not put this requirement in place lightly, however, out of an abundance of caution and love for neighbor, masks will be required for all. We have many immune-compromised parishioners. If they are to feel safe and welcome again in our sanctuary they need to see and know that we all care enough about them to wear a mask. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided to you and it will be yours to keep. A special thank you to those who voluntarily made these! If you have small children, child-sized masks with fun prints/colors will be available.
No food or coffee will be served on May 10th. Please bring your own.
No nursery care or kids’ worship will be available for the time being. We welcome children and all the JOY that they bring!
Please do what you can to keep your children contained to one pew.
If your child’s “joy” is just too uncontainable the narthex & library will be available as cry rooms.
Wash your hands regularly.
Plenty of sanitizer will be on hand.
Ushers will open doors for you.
Please do not hug or shake hands. You may be comfortable, your neighbor may not.
All areas used by people will be sanitized during the week.
Thank you for your sacrificial investments! If you can, continue to give online or by mail.
Boxes to collect offerings will be placed at each exit. We will not pass the plates.
Sunday school will gather downstairs (and well-distanced) in the Dining Hall at 9am. This, too, will be Zoomed to those at home.
We can’t thank you enough for your patience and understanding as we adjust to this new and constantly changing reality. Updates to the policies and procedures listed in this letter will be communicated via our phone tree, email, website and Facebook. Please be sure you are connected to your church at each of these contact points. We miss and love you all and can’t wait to see you in person soon.
Pastor Adam Len Feddema Mary Feddema Diane Manon Janet LaTurner Loren Troyer
What a confusing time we’re living through!
St. Andrew EPC will be streaming worship online and NOT meeting in person. WE ARE NOT CANCELING WORSHIP. You will be able to join us for worship at 10:15 from your computer or device at saintandrewepc.org or by using our app. The band will lead you in song, Len will lead you in prayer, I will do a kids’ message, we’ll have an offering and a sermon. I will do my best to explain our decision making process in what
Depending on who you talk to, COVID-19 is anything from an overblown hoax to an existential threat to humanity. It is difficult at this point in time to know the truth. What we do know is that the experts in the medical professions and our public officials are taking this threat very seriously. In deference to their wisdom and in submission to their authority (Romans 13), we are moving our Sunday gathering from on-site to online until further notice. In the case of a novel virus with a high mortality rate, we would rather look back on the decisions we make in these days and say we overreacted as opposed to the alternative; wishing we had done more.
Not only this, but we believe going online for worship for a time is setting an example both for our parishioners and for a watching world. In times such as these the church should be seen as a humble and cooperative people working for the common good (Jeremiah 29:7).
Is this a decision made in fear?
No. We trust God completely in this. God is not surprised by the Coronavirus and is absolutely sovereign over it, as well as the world’s response to it. God the Spirit is not one of fear, but of power, love, and self control (2 Timothy 1:7). This is a decision made out of a love for our neighbors. You might be comfortable personally with the risk involved in attending a public gathering. Be aware, however, if you were to be exposed to the virus it would quickly affect more than just you. Your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, waiters, store clerks, and healthcare professionals could all be put at risk.
We think the risk for gathering to worship is very low. But we don’t know. Some in our congregation have traveled locally and even internationally in the past two weeks. Many of us attended a large concert in Fort Wayne less than a week ago. Until we know more, prudence leads us to try something new.
What about Life Groups?
Life groups will meet online until further notice. More details will be coming!
What about the spring break retreat?
Unfortunately, the spring break retreat is canceled. If you have paid any money you will be refunded.
What is the plan for Palm Sunday, Easter, and our foster family events?
As of today (3/13) we hope to be worshiping together again in person by then. For right now we, like the rest of the country, must wait and see.
What pastoral advice do you have for the church?
In the past 24 hours I have been scoffed at by someone who was sure the Coronavirus is “no big deal” and I have been approached by someone at the grocery who was visibly shaken, asking me for prayer right then and there. So I’ll give advice to both.
If you are experiencing fear, know that you are normal. These are uncertain times. The measure of your faith is not whether you fear or don’t fear. The measure of your faith is who you turn to in your fear. You already know that some day you will die. It could be a freak accident, it could be quietly in your sleep at an old age, it could be due to a pandemic. Let this outbreak be a reality check for you. Where is your ultimate hope? With Jesus and the eternity he has for you, or with the comforts and control you’ve known in this life? Your God is already standing on the other side of Coronavirus, and from his point of view, it all works out. As the old hymn goes, “This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget. That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet!” Focus on who Jesus is.
If you are not worried at all, remember that God is sovereign. You might feel inconvenienced by closures or angry because you’ve lost money. Romans 8:28 is still true. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Maybe God has sovereignly brought you to this point to slow you down and get you alone in order to commune more deeply with you. Maybe God wants you to pray more or to focus your prayers on others, like those living paycheck to paycheck. Maybe God is using this virus to shake the foundations of the world and draw people to himself. Would that not be just like God? Rejoice and be glad. Your God is King.
No matter who you are, extend grace. These decisions have not been easy and every church in the country is having to wrestle with what to do for worship gatherings. Churches that decide to keep meeting are not reckless or unloving. Churches that decide to cancel or go online are not unfaithful or fearful. Lastly, pray. Pray for your session, but more importantly, pray for those whose lives are impacted by the closings taking place. And pray for the scientists and
politicians and news media upon whom we all rely to promote health and life.
I’ll close with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Michael Curry posted a video of himself offering this prayer last night. I was blessed by it.
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work or watch or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.