As I write to you today, many of you are likely making plans for the upcoming Independence Day celebrations. The 4th of July holiday – and our limited or altered plans - are just one more reminder of all the things that have been different this year.
A week ago at this time, your session was looking forward, and making plans to reopen our church building and resume in-person worship. Unfortunately, as things seem to do with this crisis, things have changed quickly.
In the last week we have seen the Coronavirus numbers in North Carolina and in Cumberland County, head in the wrong direction. We have heard the governor, based on the recommendation of the state department of public health, extended phase two, when we were hoping that we would be moving into phase three.
Additionally, on Friday, we received a communication from the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina that included the following information:
The Executive Board has decided that all presbytery meetings, events, and gatherings scheduled for July shall be virtual.
The Executive Board recommends that indoor congregational gatherings – worship, Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, daycare, nursery, etc. - be suspended until the end of July.
Sessions that have approved in-person worship should plan outdoor gatherings with social distancing in July or until such time as the governor of North Carolina moves the state into Phase III. Virtual and long-distance engagement is strongly encouraged.
One of the things we have learned in the midst of this crisis, is that we have to be flexible, and we have to be willing and able to adapt based on new information and changing circumstances. In response to these new circumstances and the updated information that we have, our session has reconsidered our reopening plans.
Based on all of the information that we have currently available, and guided by the underlying principle of sharing God’s love by putting health and safety over our wishes and comforts, we have decided to continue with online only worship for the remainder of July.
We will be monitoring the situation constantly and will continue to keep everyone informed to the best of our ability. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to Chip, the staff, or any session member at your convenience. As we reformulate our plans and begin reworking our calendar for resuming in-person worship, we will keep you informed every step of the way.
This is a trying, difficult time for all of us, but God is sovereign, faithful and present – even when we can’t gather as we would like or as we are used to. Let us keep the faith as we seek to share God’s love with each other, our community, and the world.
Sharing God’s Love,