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COVID-19 RESPONSE: March 10, 2020

March 10, 2020

Dear Church,

Grace and peace to you this 12th day of Lent.

I write to you on behalf of the Session of FPCPA with some updates and news about how we are responding to recent COVID-19 developments.

As we all know, there is still much that is unknown about COVID-19, but we are slowly finding out ways to help slow the spread and avoid overtaxing our healthcare services.

Like many churches, last Sunday, the Session met to decide how to respond to governmental recommendations around gathering in public settings. We decided on Sunday that we would proceed with Sunday worship and offer a streaming option for those who wanted to worship from home. We also agreed to begin making plans for people to worship online via Zoom Video Conferencing should we feel it was no longer wise to worship in person.

The next day, Monday, we were informed by a tenant that less than two weeks ago a member of their group, who tested positive for COVID-19, attended a meeting on the FPCPA campus. We were also informed that a relative, who had yet to be tested, but had been in close proximity was present just three days ago. As far as we understand both individuals were only in one classroom.

With this news, late into the night on Monday, the Session decided that, in addition to a deep clean of the facilities, with an abundance of caution and care, we would close down the FPCPA campus and that all FPCPA gatherings and meetings would take place online through the end of April.

I am so grateful for this Session as we wrestled together with our response to the larger crisis as well as how it impacts our immediate community. There was spirited and thoughtful discussion, but our decision boiled down to a few things:

  • We are a community hub. While we are confident that the recent exposure is not a cause for alarm, it reminded us of our exposure to risk as a facility that has such high usage by so many people.
  • We realized that this is not about us. While we may want to continue living a normal church life, these are not normal times. By creating spaces where people are put at risk to either spread or be infected, no matter how slight we might believe that risk to be, we do not want to inadvertently add to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • This community will adjust and care for one another. We talked a great deal about making sure that we find ways to connect with one another during this time, so we are committed to making sure that people can still connect with one another be it by video, phone, text messages, etc. 
  • There is an opportunity. While some of these shifts from in-person to online may take a bit of getting used to, we also know that there are others who may find and connect with us for the first time. While there is certainly a feeling of loss, I am excited about how we may discover some new life during this time. To be clear, we are not canceling our community gatherings, but rather finding new ways to gather as a community.
  • Caution and Love. While difficult to make these decisions, it ultimately came down to expressing a deep and abiding love for the community, by not taking a chance with one another’s well-being. 

As you can imagine, we are all scrambling to communicate with tenants and the community, so please expect to receive messages in the next few days about signing up for Zoom and getting some help with technology.

Your Elders are taking seriously their calling to lead and guide this community and it is an honor to serve with them. We will continue to monitor the situation and revaluate before the end of April.

If you want to jump on a few things now (more info and instructions to come):

Help or be helped…

  • If you need help getting Zoom set up on your phone, tablet or computer, EMAIL ME and we will get someone to help you.
  • If you would like to be a Tech Deacon and help someone get set up, EMAIL ME and I’ll make the connection.

Lastly, if there are any questions, please feel free to eMail the Session. I will be planning a weekly check-in and prayer time soon, so there will be plenty of time to connect.

Thanks again for your flexibility and patience during this time and remember: wash your hands, stay home if you are not feeling well, practice social distancing, pray for all of those impacted by COVID-19 around the world. — and always remember to stop and breathe.

Peace be with you,
Your Session