In All things we choose to Hope rather than curse the darkness. We live in God’s World, we are called to be God’s people. In life, in death, in life beyond death, we are not alone.
March 19, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters Christ,
Our faith empowers us to look for life especially in the face of death. Most can recall Psalm 23, even more remember it in the King James Version; definitely not my preferred translation, except with this passage. Read verses 1 and 4 from Psalm 23 (KJV): The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me… The Good News we must remember and are called to share is that God is with us.
Our faith further teaches us to believe in one another even as we believe in God. God’s breath is within all of Humanity. As followers of Jesus, we must always be guided by love of neighbor, especially the least of these. In this case, all available information tells us that the most loving act we can do right now, as church and as community, is to limit social exposure.
Each and every one of us upon the Earth are at risk for the COVID-19 virus. Just as surely as we are all living, breathing human beings, we are all in this together. This virus doesn’t care if you are white or black, brown or pink. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, young or old. The virus’ sole purpose is to find the next host in which to live.
We must all work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. In order to stop providing the virus with new hosts, we are putting the wellness of our communities ahead of our own individual proclivities. SHCC leadership has decided that worship services will not take place in person at the church for the next 2 Sundays. We will revisit this conversation soon after April 1. We have also made the difficult decision to not allow groups larger than 5 to meet in the church building until further notice. Any such group must practice social spacing by at least 6 feet between each individual.
Worship is continuing as a live cast on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/shccedmond/), the SHCC website (https://bit.ly/shcclive), and on YouTube (https://bit.ly/shccyoutube) at 10:45 on Sunday mornings (#SHCC1045). This will be an entirely different kind of worship, as these are unprecedented times. I think you will be able to take pride, and feel a sense of community as we join together around the computer and on our phones. We are asking you to join us with a candle, a Bible, your offering, and whatever you are using for communion. You will be directed what to do with each item, including the lighting of your worship candle as the acolyte lights the Christ Candle online. It would be great if you would be willing to take a picture of your worship center and share it with us on Sunday morning or ahead of time via email. We are working to bring together, the various faces and voices that you are accustomed to seeing when we worship together. We hope you will join us, let us know if you have questions how to do so. For those who can not join us online in real time, the service will be linked to our shccedmond.org. We are also developing a plan to transcribe the service and mail it to those who have no ability to connect online.
Service to Others remains a key component of our identity. Even as we are ascertaining our own needs, we continue to provide Saturday and Sunday breakfasts to those in need. The Breakfast Team is being smart, and intentional about maintaining space and are only providing ‘pick up and take away’ meals. We will keep you posted about any developments or needs of this ministry. Volunteers who are not in the higher risk groups would be appreciated.
We will be Church wherever we are. SHCC is blessed to have a community of people who genuinely love one another. Our community is strong and resilient. We need each other now, more than ever. As we seek to care for and re-envision the many different aspects of our Koinonia, we will put our faith in one another and God.
You will be hearing from your Elder or another leader in the church soon. We want to know how you are doing. We want to know what your needs are. We want to know how we can be praying for you.
At SHCC our connections to each other and our communities are strong. As we go through this together they will get stronger. We are taking a sacred pause from the ordinary, to survive these extraordinary times.
All of us have to do our part. If you haven’t heard from us, pick up the phone and call us! Call another church member and check-in on them. Write a note, an e-mail, or a text. We need each other! Together, wherever we are: We Are the Church.
May Christ’s Love Be Ours,
P.S. Now may mark the beginnings of a lean time for all, including SHCC. As you are able, you may give your offering through Simple Church (on the web at http://bit.ly/SHCCgiving); or a pre-addressed envelope is enclosed for your convenience. Thanks!
March 14, 2020
We are living in interesting times. Last week we discussed changes planned for worship to address this situation. Now things have really changed! As the situation surrounding the Corona Virus has evolved, and continues to evolve, members of your Leadership have been in contact throughout the week evaluating what we know and planning for what actions we should take as a community. Representatives of the leadership, including medical professionals from within our community participated in a conference call today and made a very difficult decision. As you should have learned by now, we have decided to cancel all activities at the church for Sunday, March 15 through at least March 21st. This decision includes the cancellation of both worship services and Sunday school tomorrow.
It is never an easy decision to cancel worship. Worship is one of our core values as a compassionate community. But, as a compassionate community, we must always be guided by love of neighbor, especially the least of these. In this case, all available information tells us that the most loving act we can do right now, as church and as community, is to limit social exposure. Out of this call to love, it seems irresponsible to hold worship as we have in the past.
Leadership will continue to evaluate each week and will make a decision by each Thursday as to whether Sunday worship will take place in the Sanctuary. In addition, we are taking the following steps:
Sunday morning SHCC will stream on Facebook Live, as we do each week. We will do this at 10:45. If you want to plan and join us live, comment to let us know you are there, and as the Spirit moves you offer a prayer in written form in the comment section. Especially tomorrow the format of our online time will be different than what we are accustomed. Our time together online tomorrow should not exceed 30 minutes. If you can’t join us live, the service will remain posted on our Facebook wall where it can be accessed at a time of your choosing. In the days ahead we are also planning to provide shorter messages, meditations and songs, as we seek to increase ways of connecting through social media.
Curtis and his crew have been taking extra precautions by spraying down surfaces and door handles throughout the building with Clorox sanitizing spray. In the week ahead (as they do each Spring Break) the custodial staff will be working to clean and disinfect every square inch of the building. During that week, we are cancelling all activities. Updates about this process will continue to be provided.
All Sunday Schools are canceled for Sunday, March 15. We encourage you to reach out to your classes and decide how you might be able to meet, even if that is not in-person each week. We will be working to help facilitate online classes. If you have knowledge and energy around this project, and can work from home to help make it happen, let us know!
The weekend breakfast program is staffed mostly by an at risk population of volunteers. To minimize the risk, while continuing to provide meals, the volunteers will prepare food to go. No meals will be served inside the building for the time being. We could really use people not in high risk groups, to step forward and help with this situation.
Children & Youth Activities
All children and youth activities are canceled this week. We will continue to monitor the situation each week to make decisions on when Fun & Fellowship and other activities will resume in-person. Pastor Sarah is working on alternative ways children and youth could gather, as well as a resource for families on how to keep open communication with children during this time. Communication about children and youth activities will be communicated through e-mail and on the Facebook group pages.
At this time, visitation needs to be handled via the phone and via electronic forms of communication. Those who are especially at risk will need the rest of us to rally. I have no doubt we will. We are dreaming, thinking and planning different ways for us to reach out to our inbound. Please be patient with us as we develop a plan. Any and all input is welcome.
As you all can imagine, not gathering each week puts extra anxiety onto those who keep an eye on our finances. During this time, we will continue to pay our staff for as long as we can. We ask that you still make giving a part of your routine, even if we only gather to worship through our devices. The easiest ways that you can give right now are electronically through SimpleChurch or by sending a check using the US Postal Service. SimpleChurch Giving may be accessed with a web browser on your computer, tablet or smartphone at bit.ly/SHCCGiving. To send a check, our mailing address is 3207 S Boulevard, Edmond, OK 73013.
There could be need in the future, depending on what happens over the next few weeks, for you to need assistance with grocery or medication delivery. Other hardships are bound to arise; if there are any members who would like to help with those needs as they arise, please e-mail Pastor Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our national ministry, Week of Compassion is already working to assess how best to help communities during and after this crisis. They are in fact, already on the front lines of this pandemic. We have a strong history of supporting this ministry. Financial gifts to Week of Compassion can be received through our church office.
During this time, we encourage you to pray; with words, yes, but especially with actions. As prayers in action you are encouraged to:
Remain calm, but proactive. Wash your hands. Maintain social distancing. Check on your family and friends. Talk with your families and friends about what is happening and how you are coping with the changes.
Remember that though we are doing our part to slow the contagion of this virus, our community upholds values that can be much more contagious: love, kindness, joy. These are changing, challenging times; but, we are a compassionate community with ideals and commitments that will guide our path as we strive to be more faithful to the healing ways of the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.
We are loved by a God, whose love never quits, never goes away and never gives up on us. It is important to put our faith in this truth, now more than ever.