Dear InTown Family,
Like all of you, we are closely following the developing public health crisis related to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. During times like this, it is important for our church to pull together, to care for one another, and to look for ways to love and serve our neighbors. Please know that we are praying for you, and we are available to you should you have need. As Christians, there are a few things that we should keep in mind as we follow Jesus together in these anxious times.
First, our lives are not our own, but we belong in both body and soul to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He watches over us and cares for us in such a way that not a hair can fall from our heads apart from his will. Because our lives are hidden with God in Christ, we need not live in fear or succumb to panic.
As the people of God, our lives are ordered by the two directives of the Great Commandment – that we love the Lord God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbors as ourselves. The love of God means that we should worship him in all of life, but especially as his gathered people around his Table and under his Word on Sunday mornings. However, at this time neighbor-love also constrains us to do all that is within our power to limit the exposure and spread of this virus in our community. We have all now learned the new phrase “social distancing” in light of this health crisis. How do we practice responsible social distancing while living out a faith that is inherently social and embodied?
We want you to know what we are doing to address the situation. As it stands, our Sunday worship services will remain on schedule with a few significant modifications that are designed to limit exposure and physical contact:
- We will not print bulletins during this season. We will project the order of service and lyrics on the screen for your use.
- We will suspend the “Passing of the Peace” during the service and urge you to avoid physical greetings before and after worship.
- We will suspend Communion until further notice, likely through the end of the month. These will be the first regular Sunday services at InTown without the celebration of Communion and it was a very difficult decision for us to make.
- Instead of passing the baskets to take the offering, we are setting up ‘Giving Stations’ that will be manned by our deacons and deaconesses. There will be one station up front by the exit, and one in the rear of the sanctuary near the stairs to the balcony. As always, you can give online, by text, or through the mail. Please do make plans to continue your regular giving, especially if it comes to the point where we need to cancel services.
- In addition to these changes, all nursery and children’s ministry operations will be suspended until further notice. There are several reasons for this. First, you try telling a toddler to practice responsible social distancing! And secondly, it seems that children are often resistant to this virus but can carry it without showing symptoms which would place our volunteers at an increased risk. In light of this (and with the above elements removed) our services will be a bit shorter.
- We will continue to serve coffee but we are stopping donut service until this passes.
- Please wash and sanitize your hands regularly.
- If you are experiencing any symptoms of illness, please stay home.
- If you or your family feel that you would prefer to stay at home in order to stay safe, we completely understand and you have our full support. We are working aggressively towards solutions that would allow us to livestream our services so that you could watch them at home. We’ll update you as we make progress on this.
All church activities outside of Sunday worship are cancelled or postponed for the rest of this month (Wednesday morning prayer and the 3/25 Prayer and Worship night). Growth Groups are free to make their own decisions regarding their meetings. We will evaluate our Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter plans as the situation progresses.
In addition to these protective measures, we are making plans for how best to conduct our ministry as a church in this temporary new reality. If you find yourself facing financial hardships due to work disruption or other causes, please reach out to our deacons and deaconesses for help. If you would like to help members of our church or community through the economic and physical hardships of this time you might consider a strategic gift to our Deacons’ Fund.
We are monitoring the situation closely. We hope to be able to continue this modified Sunday worship service as long as we are able. In the event of local transmissions of the virus in our city, or if the local authorities make decisions to cancel local schools or prohibit large group gatherings then we will reassess our plan.
Know that you are in our prayers and that we as a church stand ready to serve you and our neighbors. We want to exercise prudence and wisdom, but not fear. Please join us in prayer for our city. Look for ways to minister to your neighbors in word and deed – opportunities to serve them, and words to speak that share the hope and security that we have in Christ.
Grace and Peace to you,
Dave on behalf of the Christ Church InTown Session