Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
As many of you know already, on Tuesday Michigan declared a state of emergency in response to local cases of coronavirus. Professional sports are canceling games or season, and Michiganders are being advised to avoid public gatherings larger than 100 people, regularly wash our hands with soap and water, and take other precautions to avoid exposing ourselves or others to the disease. First Presbyterian Church of Lapeer wants you to know we are taking this situation seriously and doing what we can to decrease risks of spreading this disease. The following steps are some of the actions currently being taken by our church…
- Our worship services and soup kitchen will continue, unless we are advised otherwise by public health officials, but we will incorporate public health precautions into these ministries, including the following.
- Coffee hour after worship is suspended.
- Hand sanitizer and disposable tissues will continue to be provided near entrances to the sanctuary and dining room, and informational flyers from the CDC will be posted.
- People are encouraged to keep at least 3 feet apart from each other at all times.
- Handshaking and hugging are discouraged on church property. If you wish to show love to others (we hope you do!), consider bowing or putting your hand over your heart in blessing. Remember that, while you may feel comfortable enough to touch someone else, they may not feel the same way.
- Offering plates will no longer be passed around. If you wish to donate, offering baskets will be placed by the two main exits. You can also donate online by clicking the “Give” button in the top right-hand corner of our website or by clicking here.
- Communion will still be provided at scheduled times but will be adjusted to avoid contamination risks. Exact details will be shared during communion services.
- Nursery care is suspended until Palm Sunday (4/5), but the nursery room will remain open on Sundays for any families with small children who wish to use it and features a speaker that broadcasts the service. Our CE Director is disinfecting nursery items this weekend as an additional precaution.
- The following ministries are suspended: choir, bell choir, adult Sunday school, nursery care, youth Sunday school, youth group, Presbyterian Women, Brown Baggers, and our Lenten soup & study class on Church history.
- In the week prior to Palm Sunday or should any new major developments emerge, we will reassess these suspensions. We will announce any changes via email, our church calendar, our Facebook page, and in-worship.
- People who feel sick or recently experienced symptoms of an infectious disease are asked to stay home. This applies to everyone, including church staff and officers.
- We are currently looking into alternate ways of “doing church” so our ministries can continue however this situation may progress. Currently, sermon recordings are posted on our website every Monday (click here). Our CE Director is looking into online methods of hosting her adult ed class on A People’s History of Christianity. In lieu of fellowship groups, people are encouraged to call or send cards to maintain those communities and friends. More will be shared in coming weeks about how to keep connected while apart.
- Church members are encouraged to listen to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and other public health agencies for guidance on how to respond to this virus outbreak.
As Christians, we have a calling in times of distress like this. On one hand, we must not panic, because that helps no one. On the other, we must not procrastinate, because that risks the wellbeing of our most vulnerable—the young and the elderly—should the situation indeed get worse. Instead, we should embrace the Scout Motto of “be prepared.” It is better to prepare and be wrong in our caution than to do nothing and allow needless harm. This caution is not born from distrustful fear but rather from a pastoral compassion that wishes to see our community remain healthy. As a young man of decent health, my own risk of complications from coronavirus is relatively low, but my heart would break if anyone else suffered because of something I could have prevented. I hope these temporary public health measures are unnecessary and that years from now people can joke about me overreacting. But if they save even one life, it will be worth it to me. By responding calmly, seriously and carefully, we can help and bless not only our local church community but also our city, nation and world.
Please pray for the health and wellbeing of each other, as well as for our local, state, national, and global communities as people worldwide battle the coronavirus pandemic. James, the book of scripture we’ve studied these past few weeks, reminds us that trials like these are moments where we can display our Christian conviction through our enduring faith, our wise hope, and our compassionate action. May we as a community in Christ rise to that calling.
Rev. Alex Peterson