A Pastoral Letter
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you won’t be scorched
and flame won’t burn you.” Isaiah 43:2 Common English Bible (CEB)
Beloved in Christ,
Through it all, God is with us.
Here is my pastoral letter I promised to send as noted in the @theforest last Thursday. I had no clue that the COVID-19 health crisis would lead to cancellation of worship services. On Thursday evening, Bishop Palmer sent a letter with a strong recommendation to cancel “public worship for the next two weeks.” All West Ohio Conference churches are to cancel worship services for Sunday, March 15 and Sunday, March 22. Thus, we, at Forest Chapel UMC, will NOT have worship services at the church building on Sunday, March 15 and Sunday, March 22. The Leadership of Forest Chapel cares very much for the well-being of the people in our family of faith and greater community. God is with us, we will help slow the spread of coronavirus.
Your Pastor and the Leadership Team have been in conversation via email. The Lay Leader, Cynthia Jackson, and I spoke heart to heart about this matter after the Bishop ‘s letter arrived on Thursday evening. The Chair of the Leadership Team, Bob Conklin, and I spoke to find ways to better care about us and the community in which we live. With God, we will slow the spread of coronavirus.
I received several phone calls and emails from members of our congregation, from our Bhutanese family, as well as from our community. I hereby strongly urge that all smaller group gatherings cancel their meetings during the next two weeks starting today. The church office will be open as usual during this time. We are determined to help slow the spread of coronavirus by practicing social distancing. God is with us.
Caring for our spiritual lives through the ministries of the church will continue. Here is what the church will be providing to reinforce the continual development of our apostleship and discipleship.
Worship – consisting of scripture, sermon, and prayers will be live streamed at 10:30 AM through Facebook.
Lenten Bible Study – A reflection to be posted on the church’s Facebook page and as Barbara Hoffman instructs.
Wednesday & Thursday
Lenten Bible Study led by the pastor will be broadcast through Facebook at 6:00 PM on Wednesday and at 10:00 AM on Thursday.
Everyone is encouraged to use their telephone to stay in contact with one another. These can be lonely times for those who live alone, and there won’t be face-to-face visiting as we normally might have. As we think of our fellow church members, let us also remember neighbors who may not have much support from family and friends.
Please send me a message if you need a personal contact by phone (513-825-3040) for prayer or care during office hours, Monday through Thursday, 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM. Pray that these unprecedented efforts will prove to be helpful in slowing this outbreak.
Tithes / Offerings and Office Hours
I also trust that you and I will be faithful with our weekly or monthly tithes and offerings during this time. Please consider putting your offering in an envelope and dropping it at the church which will be open Monday through Thursday, 9:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M.
Precautions to Take
Concerning health care for our congregation and community, there are a number of precautions to take, including:
-Wash your hands properly.
The World Health Organization shows the safest way to wash your hands properly with the graphic below.
Germs spreads through touching. As we shake hands, let us remind ourselves that we each breathes in breath from the other person.
–Don’t touch door handles.
Touching surfaces is thought to be one of the easiest ways to pick up the infection. So, if someone sneezes or coughs into their hand and then touches a door handle or rail, that surface may become contaminated.
Experts don’t yet know exactly how long the virus can survive on surfaces, but studies suggest it could be hours rather than days.
The best way to avoid the spread is to regularly wash your hands and clean surfaces. But using a tissue to open a door will reduce your physical contact with germs on surfaces.
-Use a pen to push elevator buttons.
One expert has recommended pushing elevator buttons with a pen to avoid catching the virus.
-Keep a distance socially, especially if someone is sneezing and coughing.
The virus is airborne (when an infected person coughs or sneezes). Scientists have ascertained that it survives for an average of three days and on cardboard for an average of one day.
(The source of information regarding the coronavirus is from a reliable science source, but I cannot recall which source. It was a part of the breaking news yesterday regarding newest learnings)
-Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
–Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or even your elbow, when coughing or sneezing.
-Get care immediately if you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
Stay informed. There are a number of reliable resources, including the World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and Global Health Tracker.
I will continue to update you if situations change further.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” 2 Timothy 1:7 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)