Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
Due to social distancing measures put in place by our Michigan and federal governments, many churches are shifting to at-home worship. This Thursday, based on recommendations from state, national, and denominational governments, our church’s session voted to suspend all in-person activities, apart from the soup kitchen and food pantry, through Palm Sunday (April 5). This decision was not made lightly. But even as we seek to maintain worship, service and community for our congregation, we want to protect the health of our people and observe the laws of the land. However, there are two key words to notice. First, we say “suspend” because we know life, faith and worship await us on the other side of this national crisis. Second, we say “in-person” because, even though we cannot be in the same room for public health reasons, our congregation hopes to continue doing the work of the Church from a distance. Here are some concrete ways you can continue to grow your faith and stay connected in the coming weeks…
- Our church has developed an at-home worship packet so that as one congregation we can continue gathering around God’s word, even though we cannot gather in-person. We encourage people to use these packets to host church in their homes or over the phone with a friend. On Sundays, we have a 30-minute do-it-yourself worship service focused around God’s Word, just as we normally have on Sundays. On Tuesdays, we encourage people to turn an ordinary mealtime into an “agape meal,” which was a time of prayer and feasting used by the earliest Christians that eventually grew into our modern-day communion services. On Thursdays we are sending out 1-minute devotionals via automated phone call, though you may opt out of these if you wish. While it may feel strange hosting worship at home or over the phone, unusual church is better than no church, and by uniting around the same scriptures and prayers, we can feel connected even though we are apart. Worship continues, even if it happens from the safety of home.
- For those who miss the sights and sounds of in-person worship services, we encourage you on Sundays at 10:25am to visit 1st Presbyterian Church of Saginaw’s worship livestream on YouTube (no account is needed to view it). Each Sunday, their pastor and organist meet in an empty sanctuary to broadcast worship via YouTube, complete with music. We hope that by tuning in as a church together to the same worship broadcast, our own congregation similarly feels united in worship.
- Our soup kitchen and food pantry are continuing during this time under additional health and safety measures, as hunger never takes time off. We are shifting to a takeout-style approach for these programs so people can get food while still avoiding infection. Volunteers and donations for these hunger relief programs are always appreciated.
- Even as we suspend all non-hunger-relief ministries, our churches needs and obligations remains. If you still wish to give, you have several options. You can donate online on our website by clicking “Give” in the upper right corner or by clicking here. Or you can mail in a giving envelope as normal or slide a donation envelope under the secretary’s door.
- Unfortunately, the suspension of in-person worship services also applies to funerals. If you wish to honor the passing of a loved one, Pastor Alex is still able to conduct small graveside services (no more than 10 people), with the understanding that a larger memorial service can be held once we are able to resume in-person worship.
- Living under social distancing to avoid infection can be hard for many, whether financially, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally. If you need assistance and think our church can help, please call the office at 810-664-8565 or email Pastor Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org. Community Mental Health also has resources for those struggling during this time, and you can reach them on their website or by calling (810) 667-0500.
- We are looking at other ways of creatively maintaining worship and community during these times, and we encourage you to be proactive in doing so. Ideas are always welcome, so feel free to contact Pastor Alex with suggestions or questions.
Please stay safe out there, and may God be with you until we meet again.
Rev. Alex Peterson