Responding to COVID-19
We recently heard an interview in which a political journalist said the words:
"Identity activates under threat."
We've seen the worst of what this can mean in the political divisions and rhetoric of the past few years - People respond to threats (whether perceived or real) by digging in their heels and burrowing deeper into a social identity. We believe, however, that we can also see this truth playing out in beautiful ways. We are currently facing an exponentially growing global pandemic, a very clear threat, and we must decide now to allow that threat to activate our identity as followers of Jesus - people embodying radical, Divine Love and protecting the most vulnerable.
This is why we've decided that the most faithful way we can embody the love of Christ is through decisive measures of social distancing, which most immediately means making the call to cancel all physical gatherings, including worship. This is how we will love best in this difficult moment.
As Elizabeth Lott, pastor of our sister church St. Charles Ave. Baptist in New Orleans, wrote: "...there are no bonus points for digging your heels in and keeping business and faith communities open in a pandemic... We can only protect [vulnerable people] by canceling everything for a bit."
Now, to be clear, canceling the physical gathering for worship does not mean canceling worship. We'll be streaming a digital adaptation of our service over YouTube, and we will send instructions tomorrow about how to access that stream and what it will look like. We'll be practicing "community without communing." This gives us an opportunity to approach worship from a different angle for a while, which will have its own unique benefits we wouldn't have otherwise been able to explore.
We'll be relying heavily on the Family Ministries Commission in the coming days to check in on folks and provide assistance to anyone who needs help accessing the live stream.
In the meantime, let's all remember best practices for preventing the spread of the virus:
Remember the virus is spread by large droplets from coughing or sneezing, so be sure to wash your hands well and often, keep from touching your face as much as possible, and limit physical contact with others.
As much as you are able, open public doors with a hip or closed fist. Don't grasp handles.
Use disinfectant wipes in stores whenever they're available, especially for grocery carts or gas nozzles.
Cover your coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues. Remember the virus can survive on surfaces (like the elbow of your shirt) for a week or more.
If you depend on prescription medications, CVS & Walgreens are now offering free delivery so that people do not have to physically travel to the drug store.
If you do find yourself exhibiting any of the known symptoms (cough, fever, difficulty breathing) please STAY HOME if you are not seeking medical attention. Even if you feel well enough to go out, remember that you can pass the virus to others whose immune systems are weaker without your knowledge.
As a church, please remember the following as we make our way through this season:
As we said before, "identity activates under threat," which has meant an increase in xenophobic rhetoric. Please be aware of this and commit to being agents of God's peace and empathy.
Don't forget to check in on one another. There are certainly members who will be feeling lonely and anxious during this time, and a phone call, text, email, or Facebook message can do wonders.
We've made the decision to continue to pay our childcare workers and musicians who are depending on this income even if we do not meet, so please do not forget to give while we are scattered. We're still depending on your contributions. You can give at
Please feel free to reach out to us or any of the Coordinating Council with questions or concerns.
With Peace and Love,
Zach and Claire