Update: The Bishop of the Virginia United Methodist Conference has advised all churches in the conference to hold worship online only for Sunday March 15th and 22nd. You can join us on facebook live each of those Sundays at 9:45. Preschool for next week is also canceled.
Over the past several days, all of us, I suspect, have been hearing more and more about the coronavirus. Yesterday, it felt like things hit a tipping point as colleges and universities, cities and sporting venues, and even some churches started canceling events and limiting access to facilities to try and help control the spread. Last night, the President addressed the nation and announced other sweeping measures to try and control the growing crises. I’m sure you’ve seen many of these alerts. I wanted to write to you to address how we are acting on this at Wright’s Chapel.
I would encourage you to be praying for all those individuals and families whose lives have been brought into proximity with coronavirus. In our global community, there are thousands of people who are suffering as a result of this virus. We should be praying for healing for those folks. Additionally, there a many others who are scared of the effects of the virus upon the economy and especially upon the poor. I believe that prayer invites us into a space of trust and belief that God doesn’t disappear during moments like these, but journeys with us along life’s way.
At Wright’s Chapel we have canceled pre-school for Friday (and the rest of the week) and thus we’ll have some extra time and are giving extra attention to cleaning. We have hired some additional help to clean and wipe down surfaces, door handles, tables, etc.
(See note above about worship!) We are not planning to cancel any worship services at this time. Should that change, we will try to communicate that swiftly. However, we want to be clear. God won’t judge you for missing church and neither will we.
If you are sick or vulnerable to illness, or feel uncomfortable about coming to worship please stay home. In addition to our 9:45 service being live on Facebook we will also put our 11:00 am service live on Facebook as well as our Wednesday Lenten Lunch service.
We are going to modify how we do our worship experiences and church activities. Specifically, I want to make you aware of the following steps we’ll be taking:
1st: Our front and back entrance points in the church will have a hand washing/hand sanitizing station. We are asking that every person who comes in the building take 20 seconds to say the Lord’s Prayer and clean your hands.
2nd: Sharing in Greeting, not the germs. While I know how much it means to us to greet one another, we need to be mindful that human touch, though important, is a “touchy” subject right now. In worship as we greet one another we encourage you to wave, elbow bump, but refrain from hand shaking and hugging.
3rd: Rather than pass the offering plates, we’ll have plates available for collecting offering as you enter and exit the sanctuary. If you prefer to give online, you can do so by visiting (wrightschapel.org) We are asking that you to keep giving your offering even if you choose not to come to worship. Because we anticipate a decline in worship attendance, we also are anticipating that this will be a difficult economic time for our church and so if you are able to give more it would certainly be appreciated.
Please know that you are loved mightily and that I would be happy to be in conversation with and prayer for you. You can reach me via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or cell phone (804-994-1833) if you need any kind of pastoral care at this time.
Please know, we want to be prepared, not scared. God’s love is real, active, and for everyone, even in times like these. I hope that by taking these simple steps we can alleviate fear and gather with confidence in the coming days and weeks. I’ll be working with our staff and leaders to monitor and make any changes as needed to this update. But right now, I ask that we pray, lean on God’s wisdom, and continue to be the great church family we always have been.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update.
The Virginia Conference Bishop of the UMC has also put out a statement which you can read here if you are interested.
Please be in touch if you have questions or concerns.