A Word From Pastor Scott About Covid-19
March 13, 2020
Friends and Members of Northminster,
Both Session and Deacons met for previously scheduled meetings last night, and took the time to carefully, considerately, and faithfully think about the COVID-19 virus and how Northminster is called to react and respond. The ultimate decision we reached is to suspend all group activities (including Worship and Sunday School) for the month of March. This includes the next three Sundays—March 15, 22, and 29—and all other meetings within the wall of our church building (Scouts, Friday Fellowship, Tuesday Bible Study, etc.). The outside organizations that use our building have already been informed and many of them had already made similar decisions to suspend activities. While it was a difficult decision to make, I was encouraged by this calm, confident, and unanimous decision reached by our Elders through a discussion that included consideration of the medical, societal, theological, pastoral, and economic implications for our community. This is all to say: Northminster, you have some fantastic leaders who took the time to make a good and careful decision.
This is not to say that we “like” this decision. There was a palpable feeling last night of the distance ahead of us. As we left, we realized that we won’t get to connect and live together in faith in the same ways this month. We’ll feel that distance; not only on Sunday mornings, but throughout the week. For many of us, Northminster is our primary center of fellowship and support.
I also wanted to name one more reality from last night: There was not a sense of panic or resignation at either meeting. This decision was made with faithful confidence and intention. As I shared with a colleague last night: “I think we all simultaneously realized that the worst-case scenario in one direction is we look a little foolish and overly cautious—the worst case scenario in the other is that we put people we love deeply in danger.” We closed church four times last winter for icy roads alone for very similar motivations; there was no panic then, and there is no panic now. We are making a conscious and faithful choice to err on the side of prudence, caution, and care for our congregation and community.
I also texted our accompanist Lisa Hickman four words last night: “Time to get creative.” We’re going to do everything we can to engage our congregation and community in both new and familiar ways. We’re going to make more calls, do more on Facebook, try new Bible Study methods, reach out in care and compassion to our world in hope and love. Some things will stay the same, though:
- Office hours will remain as posted for both myself and Teri. Please feel free to call, email, or come into the office to share needs and concerns. The sanctuary will, of course, be accessible for times of individual prayer, counseling, and meditation.
- Please inform the office or your Deacon if you have any needs, spiritual or physical, that we can help with. Volunteers are available to make supply/grocery trips for high-risk parishioners and I’m available for counseling calls or even visits when prudent.
- We are going to be there for our congregation and community in ways we’ve already seen and can’t yet plan for. We’re looking at ways to help parishioners whose income and resources have already been dramatically impacted by work and school suspensions. We need your ongoing support, creativity, awareness—and, yes, financial support—to identify and offer signs of hope and care to those caught in the whirlwind of response.
Finally, friends, I think it is incredibly appropriate that this is happening in Lent. During Lent, the church has traditionally set aside what is routine and assumed to step back and hopefully see God working in new and unexpected ways. This is going to be one whale of a fast friends, a “stepping back” and sacrificing of what is normal and preferred to step into something unexpected and emerging with faith and intention. Make no mistake: this is strange. But also make no mistake: God is going to use Northminster throughout March with divine creativity and deep compassion. We’re going to be the loving, compassionate family church we’ve always been…and we’re going to claim the promises of Isaiah today, even in the midst of sacrifice:
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”—Isaiah 43:2
In Peace, Love, and Hope,
Pastor Scott on behalf of the Session