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Urgent Update (COVID-19 response)


Dear friends,

I feel like a broken record, but I can find no more accurate words than “We are living in unprecedented times.” So much has changed, is changing, or will change soon due to the corona virus COVID-19.

We have been encouraged to stay home. We are not able to worship together in person. Gatherings have been cancelled, postponed, or moved online. Our well-used building has few people coming in and out, and I no longer hear the voices of children as I work in my office. It is strange. Disorienting. And more than a little scary.

I recently preached on the Jewish people exiled in Babylon in the 6th century BCE. Although we are not in exile, and our situation is far less severe than these ancestors in the faith, many of us do feel like we’re strangers in a strange land. We, too, may wonder how we can practice our faith when so many of the things that seemed to define us are unavailable or on hold.

Of course, we know that “the church” is not the building. The church has always been the people. But how are we “the church” when we, the people, cannot gather to worship?

First, we can gather to worship—just not in person. Each Sunday I will lead worship at 10:00 from the sanctuary we all know and love. We will send it out online so that you can either tune in and participate with us in real time, or watch it later. This will be both on our Facebook page and the church website under the Worship tab.

Every weekday morning we have morning devotions at 9 a.m. Every Tuesday afternoon I have a time with children. Wednesday evening at 7pm I am leading a Zoom video conference for a time of prayer and communion. And every Thursday morning at 10:00 I will have another Zoom conference, this one just to chat with anyone who feels like connecting. These links are all below.

But what about those people who don’t have computers or who aren’t online? That has been one of my biggest worries. How do we connect with people who we cannot visit in person or via the internet? Also, how are we looking out for those most vulnerable to the effects of this disease? For starters, we have a group of people who are calling our seniors, especially those who live alone, once or twice a week to check on them. Many of them do have internet access, but we still want to check on them regularly. We also are sending hand-written notes to those who are not online.

Now, here are a few other pieces of information we would like for you to know.

* The church office is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. All office and program staff are working from home and are checking voicemails and emails. They will return your calls, though probably their phones will come up as “blocked call”

* The food pantry is still open, Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

* We can set up online video conferences to help our small groups stay connected. If  your care group, committee, or other small group wants to meet virtually, let us know and we can help make that happen.

* If you have an email address and are not receiving our Weekly Word electronic newsletter, please call or email the office right away to be added. This is the primary way we are communicating.

* Some of you have nothing to do and others of you are busier than ever. We don’t know who falls into these categories. If you have skills you’d like to put to use in the church during this time, please let us know.

* If you need anything, please call or email. We cannot say this enough. We often have people contact us to offer assistance, and we are happy to connect those people with others in need. Whether it’s medication or toilet paper you need, we are here to help!

* If you have grown children, please tell them the church is important to you, and that you are important to us. Senior citizens, please tell your children that if you get sick, we want to know. Write the church number (799-3361) and my number (400-4371) on your emergency call list so they know how to reach us.

These are, indeed, unprecedented times. But we are the church. We already know how to do the things the world needs—how to connect, how to support, how to heal, how to love. Maybe we have learned these important skills for such a time as this. We know how to be the church. We will continue to be the church together.

With love and prayers,

Pastor Cindy Maddox

Here are the links for our weekly conference calls:

Zoom link for Morning Devotionals at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday
For video conference call with your computer go to: https://zoom.us/j/394308620. With your cell phone use the app and Meeting ID: 394 308 620. To call in rather than video chat, dial 1-929-205-6099 and use meeting ID 394 308 620.

Zoom link for Tuesday Time with Children at 3:00 p.m. 
For video conference call with your computer go to: https://zoom.us/j/835020038. With your cell phone use the app and meeting ID 835 020 038. To call in rather than video chat, dial 1-929-205-6099 and use meeting ID 835 020 038. 

Zoom link for Wednesday Prayer & Praise at 7 p.m.
For video conference call with your computer go to: https://zoom.us/j/425341126. With your cell phone use the app and meeting ID 425 341 126. To call in rather than video chat, dial 1-929-205-6099 and use meeting ID 425 341 126

Zoom link for Thursday Community Office Hours at 10 a.m.
For video conference call with your computer go to: https://zoom.us/j/258573981. With your cell phone use the app and meeting ID 258 573 981. To call in rather than video chat, dial 1-929-205-6099 and use meeting ID 258 573 981

On Sunday morning at 10:00 you will find our worship here on our website under Worship, as well as on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/fccucc. The direct link to videos is www.facebook.com/pg/fccucc/videos.

If we come up with a better way, we will communicate it immediately.

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