Greetings New Covenant!
What a difference a few hours can make. As you likely already know, Dallas County along with area towns and cities (including Sunnyvale) has issued an order that all gatherings exceeding 500 people be cancelled or rescheduled. It is recommended and encouraged that all gatherings over 250 and over 10 for at risk populations also be cancelled or rescheduled. I have consulted with Doug Crownover (Administrative Council Chair) and Marcia Matus (Lay Leader) about the best course of action for us at New Covenant UMC. And I just received an email from Bishop McKee requesting that all churches in the Metro and North Central Districts cancel worship services and other gatherings for the next two Sundays. We are part of the Metro District. Local school, including Garland and Mesquite, have extended Spring Break for a week.
So here’s what we are going to do. For the next two Sundays (March 15 and 22) we will worship together via Facebook live under my Facebook page on Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. This will not be optimal but I will strive to make this as meaningful a worship experience as possible. If you are not on Facebook, please set up an account and friend me (Dana Grissett Norton) and New Covenant UMC…the live feed will be on my page and then shared on the church page at the conclusion.
Additionally, all meetings are cancelled at the church until March 23rd. We have already set things in place for both Barbara and I to work mostly from home, which we will do until March 23rd as well. Yes, there will be a few times when we go in for things like making the church deposit and printing of checks. But this will be kept to a minimum. I ask that you use our online giving capabilities during this time at https://newcovenantumc.churchcenter.com/giving. Though everything around us seems to be shutting down, we still have to keep the lights on for our return!
I encourage all of you to continue washing your hands while saying the Lord’s Prayer; to maintain the recommended arm length distance from those around you; to keep surfaces disinfected; to contact your doctor and isolate yourself if you are sick; and as much as possible, to stay home.
Is this all a massive overreaction? That’s an opinion for each person to formulate. We will function out of factual information. That includes that there were 5 new novel Coronavirus cases confirmed in Dallas County yesterday. One of these persons has not traveled or been in contact with a previously identified infected person. So it would appear that one person can have the virus, be symptom free, and transmit it unknowingly. Many, perhaps even most, people who contract the virus will have only mild symptoms and recover fully. However, the identified as at high risk population is all persons over 60 years of age (and increases the older we get) and all persons with pre-existing health conditions including heart disease and diabetes, to name a couple. This places much of our congregation in the higher risk category. So we will take the recommended precautions in love of one another.
In the meantime, let us remember that we are also a community of faith…a community that loves and cares deeply for one another. It is critical to our well-being as the social creatures that we are to remain connected with one another. As you sit at home, please reach out by phone to one another. Talk about your loved ones and all that brings you joy. Share your concerns but don’t forget to share your joys as well. Call me! If you’re afraid, call me. If you’re sick, call me. If you’ve got something to celebrate, call me. I will keep daily communication coming out to you through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, my blog, and all church email.
Remember that while it seems we are becoming increasingly isolated in response to this pandemic, it will not last forever. And most importantly, remember that we are never really alone. God is with us. And even when we are not in the same room, our love for one another remains ever strong. Call one another. Pray for one another. And may you know the peace of Jesus Christ in all things. And lastly, see you on Facebook live Sunday at 11 a.m. Perhaps we will set up a Bible study in some sort of online format. I’ll start some games or ways to interact through Facebook and encourage you to get creative and do the same. Who’s with me?
Peace be with you,