Dear St. Philip’s Family,
It seems that we have been navigating uncertain waters frequently these past several months, and while I continue to be impressed and amazed by the faithfulness of this wonderful congregation, I join you in longing for easier days. With the recent news of the escalating development of the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought I would take a moment and share with you the steps we are taking here at St. Philip’s.
First of all, our response to the COVID-19 outbreak is one that is being entered into prayerfully and thoughtfully. We are all hearing responses that range from dismissive to those tinged with panic and fear. It is our deepest desire to respond in a way that is both thoughtful and responsible – with a sensitivity both to our physical health needs as well as our spiritual needs.
As you are aware, recent days have brought about the cancellation of many public events. In addition, colleges and universities have been closing their campuses, moving to online instruction and extending spring break. As of this writing, local public schools have not announced any plans to close their doors or suspend classes. With all of these developments, many are wondering what the future holds for our worship gatherings and on-campus programming. At this time, we are not cancelling our worship services, Bible studies, or other regularly scheduled gatherings. As new information is released, however, our schedule is subject to change. Feel assured that any changes to our worship or program schedule will be communicated via our website, e-mail, and social media accounts. We will be closely monitoring announcements from local governments and school districts, and will follow all recommendations and restrictions from local authorities.
In the meantime, we are taking steps to make St. Philip’s as safe as possible, including some changes to the way we worship. Our custodial service, in addition to cleaning all of our buildings three times a week, is doing a deep clean of our carpeting on Friday, March 21st. Our staff is being diligent about frequent hand washing and sanitation, and we are encouraging everyone to abstain from hand shaking and hugs until the current health situation improves. At our worship services, we are temporarily dispensing with the traditional “greeting” time. You will also notice changes in the way we serve communion on April 5th, as we move away from intinction (dipping the bread into a common cup) and move toward individual servings of juice. Servers will continue the practice of sanitizing their hands before serving the bread.
As your church family, we place great value in the healing power of community. The highlight of my week, every week, is spending time in worship with each of you. That said, you may feel that the best decision for you and your family is to avoid our worship gatherings for the time being. Certainly, if you are sick, or think you might be sick, I encourage you to stay home. If you are in a high risk group due to your age or underlying health conditions, please listen to your doctor and exercise caution as you make decisions regarding attending our worship services.
Recommended health guidelines can be found on the Center for Disease Control website. Within the next two weeks, we will be streaming our 11:00 chapel service online via FaceBook Live and/or a YouTube channel that we are currently creating. Once this capability is reached, you will receive a notification with instructions on how to tune in. Until then, you can still listen to each week’s message by clicking the link on our website. You can find them here.
Lastly, as with any challenge, our current circumstances provide us with an opportunity to both grow in our faith as well as in our love. We are prayerfully watching for ways to serve our community during this time of increased need, and as we always do, this season will be one of rising above and beyond….pushing in to the forces that push against us. I trust that God will continue to use each of us to be the light of the world in the coming weeks!