March 6, 2020
As you well know, our world is adjusting constantly to the unfolding situation with the COVID 19 coronavirus.
We are taking a posture of awareness, but not panic. Preparation, but not obsession.
To this end, I wanted to note the conversations we’ve had among leadership and preparations we are taking.
First, I want to encourage you to keep in touch with us. We want to know how you are feeling and doing! We want to know how best to pray for you, and the best way to do this is to stay in touch. Please email or call the church office (email@example.com and 860-429-9382) or me (firstname.lastname@example.org) as things come up. It matters, deeply, to us.
If you know yourself to be in an especially vulnerable position, please let us know someone who you understand to be an emergency contact. We want to know how to be in touch, just in case. Again, please do send this to the church office.
Second, we will be keeping abreast of developments in our area, and if the situation in this region warrants it, we will follow the lead of other public entities (the schools, for example) regarding whether we need to cancel gathering activities or even worship. We will plan to offer a worship experience online if the situation demands it. If you are not following us online, please start to do so! Find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/storrscongregationalchurch/ and on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC18Uw2ENMN7CdYFLx6Wy6Fw (or, perhaps easier, you can simply search “Storrs Congregational Church” from the main YouTube site). Both are linked from our main website at http://www.storrscongchurch.org/ via the icons in the upper right corner. If you weren’t already aware of it, we’re already live-streaming the scripture, children’s message, and sermon portions of the worship service each week on YouTube (and the recorded video of the same gets posted to Facebook soon afterwards).
Far more likely, however, is that we are able to continue to worship together in person. Under the circumstances, we are taking a few protective measures for our time together.
A.) We are asking that we minimize physical contact with one another, for now. As we’ve already been doing for the past few weeks, we invite you to use alternative forms of greeting at The Peace. Beginning this weekend, our greeters, ushers, and even myself will be graciously modeling the practice of warmth from a distance, and refraining from shaking hands at the door. Again, this shift is not about us and our practices and habits – it is about protecting the most vulnerable among us. Also note that while traditional hand-washing is best, there are also hand sanitizer stations throughout our buildings now.
B.) When it comes time for our next celebrations, at Maundy Thursday and Easter, of Holy Communion — that sharing at the feast table of Christ that’s central to our identity as Christian community — we will be altering our serving methods to minimize risk. Worshipers will be invited to come forward to communion stations, so as to avoid all the different hands contacting the trays for pew communion. Rather than intincting, though, we’ll offer individual cups at those stations.
C.) Hopefully by now, you’ve been hearing it ad nauseum, but perhaps it can’t be said enough: one of the most important things you can do in the face of this or any other communicable disease is to be diligent about hand-washing. Seriously, just do it. The most effective way to prevent the spread of germs is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap. Did you just use the bathroom? Wash your hands. Do you need a break from working on the computer? Go wash your hands. Finished a killer round of Candy Crush on your phone? Go wash your hands and maybe your phone too. Were you just juggling six hymnals? I’m impressed! Now go wash your hands.
D.) Perhaps most importantly, we ask that you listen to your body. If you are feeling ill, stay home. There is no shame, no need for repentance, no problem with allowing your body to rest. God has modeled – and mandated – sabbath rest for this very reason. You do not need to come to church if you are sick. In fact – you shouldn’t. If staying at home causes a particular hardship, if you have trouble accessing resources or support – again, please contact the church office. If you are hungry, we want to know and we can work to get you sustenance. That is our sacred and solemn duty.
The Southern New England Conference of the UCC has put together a good collection of coronavirus-related information and links at: https://www.sneucc.org/coronavirus I recommend you check it out, since there are too many places where we can tread into misinformation.
Yours in the journey,