We have been following CDC guidance and local government leaders’ recommendations closely over the past few days. We know many of you are concerned with what is happening both locally and globally. After much discussion we are updating our policies and changing some things for the immediate future.
Sunday Morning Worship
Yesterday afternoon our Board of Deacons had a virtual meeting to discuss new developments and recommendations from the CDC and our Dutchess County health department regarding in-person gatherings. Together they came to the conclusion that even with our disinfecting protocols in place, we need to suspend in-person worship in our sanctuary beginning this Sunday.
Both your Deacons and your Pastor are keenly aware that we all need the inspiration, assurance, and the connection to God and to each other that worship provides. Your spiritual well-being is as important to us as your physical health, especially now.
Rev. Heather will be working with our Music Director, Deb Bucher to create some kind of modified online worship experience for our congregation for this Sunday, March 22nd, possibly through the Zoom web-conferencing program. We will endeavor to make a recording of it that we can then post on our newly created YouTube channel. More information and a link to the recording will be shared in a future e-blast.
We ask for your patience and understanding as this is a whole new world with a bit of a learning curve for all of our church staff. Our recording equipment is limited at this time, but we will do our best to make the audio as clear as we can.
Other Church Programming and Activities
We want to let you know that Choir Rehearsal, Sunday School and Fellowship Hour are all cancelled for an indefinite length of time. This is because the risks of food sharing and the inability to maintain appropriate social distancing during these activities makes it unwise for us to continue with them at this time.
Our three remaining Wednesday Evening Lenten Feast-For-The-Soul Series are all postponed until further notice for the same risks mentioned above (food sharing and close proximity to one another). They will be rescheduled for later dates, perhaps in May or June. Rev. Heather is working on providing an online/teleconference meeting for those who would like to continue to have the opportunity to connect with one another from the safety of their homes on Wednesday evenings.
We recommend that our church Boards and Committees with meetings scheduled in the next two-three weeks conduct their meetings remotely via teleconference call, via webconferencing or in a space like the church sanctuary where appropriate social distancing can be maintained. Committee Chairs, please contact the church office for instructions on any of these options.
Supporting our Congregation’s Ministries
Please know that our church’s financial obligations continue through this challenging time. We implore you to continue to make your regular pledge or Sunday morning offering even if you have decided to remain home. We invite you to mail in your offerings or, if you have access to the internet, setting up an electronic check from your banking institution is easy and free of charge. A non-profit paypal account is in the works. But in the meantime, we ask that you continue to financially support the ministries of your church, just as you normally would. A Paypal for Non-Profits has been set up for our church. We can accept your pledges/donations through this account. Look for the Donate botton on the front welcome page of our website.
Our Most Vulnerable Members and Friends
If you are aware of someone in our congregation who might not see this email, we ask that you please contact them and let them know what is happening. We want to make sure everyone is kept in the loop.
No matter what, each of us can make an extra effort to stay connected to one another, even if that means adopting new ways of creating community. Even if we don’t see each other in person, we are still called to be the Body of Christ together. Reach out to each other. Use the phone to stay connected with those who can’t come to church or who might feel more socially isolated during these challenging and uncertain times.
Church Office Operations
Rev. Heather and I want you know that the vital administrative and pastoral functions of our church office will continue, even if we need to close the office and work from home. We have successfully been able to set up online access to our church’s computer and files. We will check and respond to church emails during office hours as usual and phones will be forwarded so that Tracy can receive calls to the church office during regular office hours, even if she is working from home. For the most part, Rev. Heather will be responding to pastoral issues by phone. She stands ready to offer support, prayer, encouragement, and pastoral care– please reach out to her via email or by calling the church office.
Because both Rev. Heather and Tracy have family members that may be more susceptible to this illness, they may be limiting the time they are physically in the church building and/or in contact with the general public. So with that in mind, if you are planning to come into the church office for whatever reason, we invite you to please call ahead to see if someone is physically here.
We will keep you all as informed as possible of any changes to all the information above. In the meantime, please be safe as you possibly through practicing good hygiene while trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy. Above all, remember to be kind to one another. We hold each and every one of you in prayer. We know that God is our rock and our strength, and a very present help in times of trouble.
Yours in Christ, Tracy and Rev. Heather