Rev. John Shaver
Sunday, March 15, 2020 at 9:00am and 10:30am
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Dear SDUMC Family,
This afternoon, I met together with members of our SDUMC Protocol Team, Leadership Team, and Staff with regards to protective measures for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Our initial hope and plan had been to proceed with a very cautious Sunday worship schedules (following recommendations from public health officials regarding interpersonal interactions and hygiene). However, as I’ve experienced life changing in other circumstances we sometimes have to change even what seem like the best of plans. As I shared with you last Sunday my hope was for each of you to feel God’s peace, to remain calm, but to promote health and wellness in our congregation and community.
Before we met, we learned that many of the local school districts would be suspending classes at least through the end of March. As we met, a declaration of a National Emergency was announced. I have also been in contact with the Bishop, District Superintendent, and other large UMC church colleagues and learned that they were now suspending services. Finally, we had specific direction from the Governor and San Diego Department of Public Health that gatherings of 250 be cancelled at least through March 31 and that smaller gatherings observe a practice of keeping a distance of 6 feet between persons. As the Public Health office noted, “The timely implementation of aggressive strategies that create social distance and those that reduce close contact of people not regularly together, including limiting gatherings, has proven effective in prior pandemics at delaying rates of transmission and reducing illness and death.”
Given the information coming out of the Center for Disease Control and all other credible public health sources, we know that we are nearer to the beginning of this epidemic than its end, yet without knowing how it will impact our community. With all this in mind, and out of grace-filled and loving concern for the most vulnerable in our church and community, we have decided to suspend Sunday worship gatherings through March 31. We are also suspending all meetings and groups on our church campus through April 4. (Various leaders and staff will communicate more information specific to your group).
I cannot begin to express how difficult it is to implement such an unprecedented action. It feels unreal, and as some are sure to say, an overreaction. Still, knowing that our primary motivation is rooted in love of God and neighbor, our priority must be: to share God’s Peace that passes all understanding, to let Christ’s calming hand be upon us, and promote health and wellness in our congregation, community, nation, and the world.
With this in mind, we invite you to a new online worship this Sunday at 9:30 AM and for the future. (You won’t have to worry about what you wear or if you match). I am working quickly with the A/V Team to help this come to fruition this Sunday. At the very least we will send out a 9:30 a.m. recorded service (this is our first try at live streaming so pray for us and give us a bit of grace J). At the moment, we feel the service will be accessed on our web page encinitaschurch.com. The recording of this service should then be available later that day. If you need technological guidance, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the church office on Monday if you had issues this coming Sunday. We will also include a worship guide and hymns for you to sing along As a staff team we are brainstorming at ways to be in contact regularly with members throughout this time. We do not want to lose touch with anyone as a result of this pandemic. We will look to find other ways to connect with each other so that you do not feel alone or apart.
We also plan to send out emails during the week to provide links to prayer, music, and Christian education for children, youth, and adults. If you were in a small group that is not meeting feel free to email me email@example.com and we’ll add you to the online study group for The Walk.
We also want to care for those who are vulnerable in our congregation and you can read more about this in the CARE Team Announcement. If you find yourself in an emergency please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the church at 760-753-6582 (the staff will be working to check the phone messages as much as we can). We as a staff will continue to be in the office and/or working from home.
We also made the decision to keep the Interfaith Shelter open at our church (there are a few changes that will be shared with those who have signed up) during the time they are to be with us from Sunday, March 15th to March 29th.
Nancy Meisenhelder, of course, can use help and funding. As a staff and leadership team, we will be supporting her in this great effort. If you haven’t signed up to help please let her know at 760-419-1612 or email@example.com.
Let us all take some time to pray for the world around us at this time.
Grace, Peace, and Prayers,